Township officials in Portage and Washington townships as well as Juniata Township in Blair County will meet with Gamesa later this month as plans get under way to start the second phase of a massive ridgeline wind farm.
With work nearly complete on the initial 40-turbine project, sold in December to an Australian firm, Gamesa officials said Thursday they hope to begin work on a new phase late this month, with a goal of setting an additional 35 turbines by year’s end.
It’s part of a planned three-phase farm that could be home to as many as 90 windmills, making it the state’s largest.
“Landowners are already clearing trees for roadways and turbine locations, and probably late this month, we’ll mobilize onto the site and begin clearing out leftover materials for road construction,” said Terry Nicol, Gamesa’s project developer.
The company’s spokesman, Michael Peck said turbines likely will start going up in Portage Township and move north from there.
He said surveyors are plotting exact turbine locations and they should have better numbers for Portage, Washington and Juniata by April, and sometime after for Cresson Township, which probably won’t see construction until later in the year.
Meetings with townships initially impacted by the second phase are being set up for the third week of March and are necessary before development can begin, according to Washington Township Solicitor Thomas Swope.
Additional information needed includes site plans and permit information, officials in Portage and Washington townships said. They have scheduled meetings for March 21.
Gamesa used Mountain Road in Washington Township to haul materials when phase one was under construction and have asked to use it again, Swope said.
Washington Township supervisors are mulling that over.
Supervisors in both counties are finalizing agreements with the new owner of the first phase, Australian firm Babcock & Brown, which purchased Gamesa’s Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm subsidiary late last year.
Swope and Portage Township Solicitor Calvin J. Webb said Thursday that they are reviewing a letter of credit that would make the Australian firm responsible for decommissioning the turbines once they are no longer being used and set aside money to pay for their removal if the company fails to do so.
Swope says the documents are identical to ones Gamesa signed and that Babcock & Brown has pledged to do the same.
By David Hurst
9 March 2007
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