HURON COUNTY – Project officials from Noble Environmental Power, LLC confirmed Monday the company has no plans to sell the Noble Thumb Windpark project – but it is gearing up to move forward.
Noble Thumb Windparks Development Manager Jeanette Hagen said the company currently is in the process of selecting a general contractor for the windpark, which is expected to be comprised of 46 wind turbines.
“We’ve gone around with inviting general contractors to come in and bid,” she said. “And the reason being, is Noble has started building in other states, we’ve kind of run short on our construction people.”
Hagen said Noble originally planned to use its own personnel to conduct the general contractor’s work.
“But we just don’t have enough people to do that,” she said.
The bids currently are at Noble’s corporate office and will be reviewed this week, Hagen said.
While the bids were being accepted, she said there’s been a flurry of activity from those interested in placing a bid on the project.
“We’ve had a ton of people coming in and asking a million questions – everything you can possibly think of,” Hagen said, adding some prospective bidders have called local truck, sand and gravel companies, cement businesses and even landowners, “which is good because it shows they’re doing their research.”
Meanwhile Noble has been working to schedule the deliveries for additional turbines that will be shipped in for the project, she said.
Hagen said the project will have 46 turbines totaling 69 megawatts of power when built.
“It will provide enough power for approximately 23,000 homes,” she said.
Noble originally had planned to erect 32 turbines at the Bingham location, Hagen said.
“But as time went on we merged the two townships (Bingham and Sheridan) into one project and decided to add nine more turbines into Bingham Township over time during 2007,” she said.
Hagen said Noble plans to resume construction on the project in the spring.
The project, which originally began in 2005, went on a hiatus because of some interconnection problems. Noble originally planned to sign an interconnection agreement with DTE, however after things fell through, the company had to work with ITC Transmission, Hagen said.
She said things were delayed when ITC had to conduct a study that took between seven and eight months to complete, and found Noble – along with other developers waiting in line to build windparks – would have to pay hundreds of millions in upgrade costs.
However, after some of the companies in line decided to drop out, ITC conducted another study that found the costs each developer would have to pay were significantly smaller than the original study quoted, Hagen said.
“Instead of hundreds of millions, it was considerably less than that, thankfully,” she said. “ … I think everybody breathed a sigh of relief.”
While construction of the Thumb windpark was on hiatus, Hagen said Noble reviewed the project and that’s when it was decided to install additional turbines.
“We looked at the project, thought how can we better it, (and) so we decided to go up to 46 turbines,” she said.
Before any construction was stalled on the project, Noble had shipped numerous turbines and parts into the area where they were being stored in the Sandusky Piling Grounds, Hagen said.
During that time, the company was able to finish about 16 access roads, but had to stop progress in 2005 because the interconnection agreement still was not finished, she said.
Project representatives continued to work behind the scenes during that time, and it took until November 2007 to get things finalized with ITC Transmission, Hagen said.
Also during the time construction of the project was on hold, Noble had shipped out some of the turbines and parts that were in Sandusky to be used for a project Noble’s building in New York, she said.
“During our hiatus, as they needed more things over in New York, they took extra parts from Sandusky,” Hagen said. “They came and got 25 of our turbines, extra wire we had … whatever we had stored here, they would come and take it if they needed it.”
She said there currently are seven full turbines in Sandusky, and the remaining 39 will be shipped in the area later this spring.
“We’ve been busy refilling our coffers – our inventory – so we’re ready to go, too,” Hagen said.
She said Noble’s excited to get the project back on track.
“Heavens, yes – it seems like we’ve been waiting so long,” Hagen said. “ … So we’re working hard to make sure the project is done as correctly and quickly as possible.”
15 January 2008
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