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Airtricity plans 52.5-MW wind farm in Pennsylvania

Airtricity Inc., a renewable energy company, is planning a 52.5-MW wind farm in Somerset County, Pa., with an in-service date of second quarter 2009.

The company is working on getting permits, addressing geotechnical issues, and monitoring wind flow in developing the Stonycreek Wind Farm, said Doug Colbeck, Airtricity’s vice president for Northeast development.

The wind facility will use General Electric Co. SLE 1.5-MW turbines with a hub height of 80 meters and a rotor diameter of 77 meters, Colbeck said.

“We’ve met with all the townships and agencies” that will be giving permission to build the wind farm, “and we’ll continue to work with them to avoid permitting problems,” Colbeck said.

The wind farm will be located across three townships – Shade, Stonycreek and Allegheny – each with different zoning ordinances for siting such facilities. Airtricity has not yet filed zoning applications with the townships.

“They don’t yet have all their ducks in a row,” said Miles Costello, chairman of the Allegheny Township Board of Supervisors, on Aug. 17. “When we saw their plans, they were not complete,” since they lacked information on dimensions, he said. Although the company said its representatives would come to the Aug. 1 township meeting, “they didn’t show up” and they have not asked to present their plans at the September meeting, Costello said.

In Allegheny Township, turbines must be placed a distance of five times the turbine height away from the property line of a property owner who has not granted permission for siting a turbine and is adjacent to property with a turbine.

In Shade Township, the rules require a setback of at least three times the hub height of the turbine for nonparticipating owners. In addition to rules protecting nonparticipating property owners, each township has rules for placement on participating owner property.

The wind farm will tie in to a 115-kV line of Pennsylvania Electric Co., a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., Colbeck said.

Ireland-headquartered Airtricity operates its U.S. subsidiary under the same name.

By Susan Nelson

snl.com

17 August 2007