It looks like the Wolf Ridge Wind Energy Center will be gathering wind only in Cooke County.
This week, an FPL Energy official, said construction work on roads has already begun and installation of the wind turbines could be completed by midsummer.
The project created a firestorm of debate across northeastern Montague County and western Cooke County in 2006 as FPL proposed installing 65 to 100 wind turbines in an intermittent line from north of Myra and Marysville through Saint Jo to east of Montague.
Mary Wells of FPL Energy said this past week that all the wind turbines will be located in Cooke County, although there will be a few in the Saint Jo School District, which crosses into Cooke County.
She said they seek sites where contiguous land is available, and for this project, the most land was available in Cooke County.
“It becomes difficult when you can get land together. It makes a better project if they are next to each other,” stated Wells.
Wells said where wind turbines are not as well known, there are often lots of questions, unlike in West Texas where they are more common.
“Very frequently people have questions we can satisfy, but some you can’t reconcile. It is not unusual at all to face tough questions. If it is accepted, it can be a welcome experience. Sometimes it can’t be resolved, but it is not a reason why we would not build,” explained Wells.
Saint Jo area residents rose up in protest about the wind turbine project with neighbors in conflict with each other. A citizen’s advocacy group was formed and the city of Saint Jo enacted ordinances prohibiting their location in the city limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction.
A lawsuit filed by a group of citizens from both counties seeking a temporary injunction to halt the wind farm production is still pending in the 235th District Court. Wells said in that suit an agreement has been reached and both sides are working out the details.
In December, FPL Energy collected signed petitions favoring the proposed development of the wind farm. Wells said this was an attempt to show there is considerable support for the project.
“We had thought we would give them to the commissioners as an indication of support with about 1,000 signatures collected. However, we have decided they will not be presented to the court, but will be available at the landowners’ attorney’s office.”
The petitions showed support for the wind farm and its projected impact to the area tax base, as well as supporting tax abatement for the developer. The petition stated projected tax revenue for the following entities: Muenster Independent School District, $23-$25 million; Saint Jo ISD, $4-$5 million; Cooke County, $10-$13 million; Muenster Hospital District, $4-$5 million; and North Central Texas Community College District, $1-$2 million.
The company has not received any tax abatements in Cooke or Montague counties, although Muenster ISD approved the firms’ application for an appraised value limitation on certain properties.
Wells said in January, the company began putting in access roads that go to the landowner’s land and to the turbine sites. The 75, 260-foot-tall turbine towers with 150-foot-long blades, will generate a total of 112.5 megawatts of power. Each one produces 1.5 megawatts.
From February through April, the foundations for the towers will be built, along with the underground cabling. There will be no above ground lines. The large turbine pieces should begin arriving in May.
FPL Energy is the largest developer, owner and operator of wind turbines in the United States. It has 11 wind energy centers operating in the state. Most of the energy to be produced at the Cooke County wind farm will go to the Dallas-Fort Worth area through existing power lines.
By Barbara Green
3 February 2008
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