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Noble won’t confirm or deny reports of windpark sale 

HURON COUNTY – A representative from Noble Environmental Power could neither confirm nor deny reports that the company is selling its Thumb windpark project to Babcock & Brown.

SparkSpread, a publication of Electron Financial Publishing Limited, reported Monday that Noble has agreed to sell the Noble Thumb Windpark project to Babcock & Brown.

No officials at Noble or Babcock & Brown could comment or be reached by SparkSpread on the matter, and the terms of the transaction could not be determined.

According to SparkSpread, Babcock & Brown earlier this year acquired seven Midwest wind energy projects, under various stages of development, from subsidiaries of Gamesa.

In addition to the 20 wind farms across nine states in the U.S. that Babcock & Brown currently operates (19 on behalf of Babcock & Brown Wind Partners), the company has more than 18 additional wind farms under development across the country, according to SparkSpread.

Noble Environmental Power Spokeswoman Anna Giovinetto told the Huron Daily Tribune Tuesday that she could neither confirm nor deny SparkSpread’s report. “I don’t have any information I can share,” she said.

Giovinetto said more information may be available in the future.

A local project representative from Noble told the Huron Daily Tribune in January the company had no plans to sell the development, which is expected to be comprised of 46 wind turbines in the Ubly area.

Jeanette Hagen, Noble Thumb Windpark’s development manager, said at that time the company was selecting a general contractor and working to schedule deliveries for additional turbines that will be shipped in for the project.

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 in a Jan. 15 article.

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 in January.

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. ITC 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 in the Jan. 15 article. “ … 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 in January. 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.

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.

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 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 previously 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 she expected the rest of the turbines would be delivered to the Sandusky location later this spring.

On Tuesday, Hagen told the Huron Daily Tribune work is still going forward on the project.

“We’re going to go into full construction mode some time in April,” she said. “Everything as far as I know is going really well … we’re hoping to get a schedule as quickly as possible.”

Kate Hessling

The Huron Daily Tribune

12 March 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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