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Project on hold; Harrisburg seeks private investment for wind farm

Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed said today that the city will not build a municipally owned wind farm on Peters Mountain above the DeHart Dam Reservoir in northern Dauphin County but will entertain offers from private wind developers.

Reed said engineers have determined that the Peters Mountain site would accommodate just 13 standard-sized wind turbines producing 2 megawatts of electricity each. That is small by current wind farm standards, which often have 30 or more wind turbines. The mayor said the Gamesa G90 turbine was used as the test model for the study.

Building the wind farm would cost an estimated $45 million, including running a transmission line down Peters Mountain to an existing PPL substation in Dauphin borough. If tax-exempt financing was used, the project would yield about $1 million per year in net cash flow over 25 years. Under a taxable financing approach, net cash flow would average about $600,000 per year.

If a private company developed the site, net cash flow would be $1.85 million per year or $37 million over a 20-year life span, including federal tax credits which would be available to a private developer to subsidize construction. A private wind developer would lease the city land for turbine sites.

Reed said the economic benefits were not sufficient to make a compelling case for a municipal wind farm at this time, due in part to the uncertain availability of any federal incentives for municipally owned wind projects.

Concern about a potential Peters Mountain wind farm along the Appalachian Trail, which runs up and along adjoining Stony Mountain, showed that the turbines would be visible when leaves are off the trees, Reed said.

By David DeKok
Of The Patriot-News


6 September 2007