The development of a wind farm in south central Randolph County will be announced at a news conference on March 19.
Tom Chalfant, president of Randolph County Farm Bureau, declined to discuss details of the project, including its developer.
“I don’t have clearance from the company that’s doing it,” he said. “Most of the information should be coming from them.”
Indiana Michigan Power, Gamesa Corp. of Spain, and Florida Power and Light are among the wind energy developers that have approached Randolph County farmers and other property owners about land lease payments for utility-scale wind turbines.
Spokesman Mike Brian from Fort Wayne said I&M is not the developer.
“We’re not involved in that news conference,” Brian said. “I’m not sure what that’s about.”
However, I&M remains interested in developing a wind farm in East Central Indiana down the road.
“Our plans down there continue to go forward,” Brian said. “We do now have three meteorological test towers in the area, one each in Randolph, Jay and Wayne counties.”
He added: “We’ve started gathering data but we have no meaningful data at this point to make a decision on whether there are adequate resources there. That will take at least a year, probably more. We’re still hopeful there will be adequate wind resources in your area and that we will be able to build a wind farm or have someone else build it and we will buy the power.”
The announcement will be made at noon on March 19 during Ag Days at the Randolph County 4-H Fairgrounds.
During a meeting at the fairgrounds sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau in November, state officials said more than one wind farm could be built in Randolph, Jay and Wayne counties.
Orion Energy Group is building phase one of a Benton County wind farm (northwest of Lafayette) consisting of 87 wind turbines capable of generating 130 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 30,000 to 40,000 homes.
Land owners are paid between $5,000 and $10,000 a year for the one-third of an acre required for each turbine.
Phase one of a second Benton County wind farm – Fowler Ridge – is adding 226 turbines that can produce up to 400 megawatts of electricity. I&M and a sister company have agreed to purchase half the power from Fowler Ridge.
The tower for a standard utility-scale wind turbine nowadays stands 262 feet tall, and the rotor blades extend the height of the structure to 389 feet, Randolph County farmers were told at the meeting in November.
By comparison, the carillon bell tower (Shafer Tower) at Ball State University stands 150 feet tall.
While a wind farm won’t bring anywhere near the number of permanent jobs as a big factory, it will generate land lease payments as well as significant property tax revenue and hundreds of construction jobs. The Benton County wind farms are costing hundreds of millions of dollars to build.
And unlike coal-fired power plants, which generate most of Indiana’s electricity, a wind farm emits no air pollution, there is no coal to mine, transport and store, and no water is required for cooling purposes.
In an interview on Friday, Cris Dorman, spokesman for the Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development, said of the wind farm being proposed in Randolph County, “Right now all I know is it is not up to the scale of either of the other two in Benton County.”
The Journal and Courier in Lafayette contributed to this article.
By Seth Slabaugh
1 March 2008
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