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Gamesa wants more windmills  

A sprawling wind farm under construction on the Cambria-Blair county line may grow larger.

Terry Nicol of Gamesa, project developer for the wind farm, told Cresson Township officials Thursday night that a third phase of the project is being looked at for 2008 – bringing the number of turbines to as many as 90.

“There’s a feeling this area could support more turbines – possibly 15 – in the third phase,” Nicol told the board, adding that some turbines would be built in Cresson Township if the project gets state and other approval.

It’s another phase of the project the group is planning to sell to Australian firm Babcock & Brown – a major wind farm owner that Gamesa says is in prime position to reap tax credits Gamesa cannot.

The transaction on the nearly complete first phase, which involves 40 windmills along the ridge line, is awaiting Federal Energy Regulation Administration approval before it becomes final.

A second phase involves constructing 35 windmills in Washington, Portage and possibly Cresson townships in Cambria County and Juniata and Greenfield townships in Blair County.

It is expected to be built by Gamesa in 2007 in the same area, but Gamesa has not decided whether it will operate that section or sell it to someone else, Nicol said.

News of additional windmills likely will be a monetary windfall for local communities.

Gamesa has struck deals with the affected townships, promising to pay them $3,000 annually per turbine under a 25-year-lease.

A deal to sell the first farm to the Australian firm is all but complete, and Gamesa has been asking communities to agree to the same pact with the new buyer, basically absolving Gamesa from the deal.

Area communities are expected to approve the change, but their attorneys have been pouring over the agreement.

And now Gamesa is starting to ask for similar arrangements for its planned third phase.

“It’s definitely something we have to look at,” Cresson Township solicitor Gerald Neugebauer said Thursday.

“A company we’ve made a deal with is asking us to absolve them [with the promise that another will abide by it]. We need to know what we’re getting into here.”

Gamesa’s deal with Babcock & Brown is expected to be final by year’s end.

Mirror Staff Writer David Hurst is at 946-7457.

altoonamirror.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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