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Blade problems slow down Big Sky wind project

PRINCETON – Construction of the Big Sky wind turbines in northern Bureau County and southeastern Lee County has been put on hold until next spring.

On Monday, Charley Parnell, spokesman for the Edison Mission Group, said the delay is due to technical design problems with turbine blades ordered from an India-based company, Suzlon. Edison Mission Group is still evaluating the turbine blade situation and wants to make sure the turbines it gets for Big Sky are efficient and functioning properly. The developers do have other companies from which they could get their turbine blades, Parnell said.

In a written statement, the India company has agreed to refurbish more than 1,200 blades which have already been installed at some U.S. wind farms or on enroute to other U.S. wind farms. The estimated cost to repair the turbines is $25 million, according to the statement.

Originally, the Big Sky developers hoped the $300 million wind farm would go on-line by the end of the year. With the delay caused by the turbine blade problem, Big Sky’s on-line date is more likely the end of 2009, Parnell said. Crews will begin work on the foundations and construction of the turbines next spring, he said.

However, the Big Sky developers are still busy with the project. On Monday, crews continued work at the Big Sky substation site just north of the Bureau-Lee county line on Route 26. The substation and transmission lines should be in place by the end of this summer, if the weather cooperates, Parnell said. A second substation, located farther north in Lee County, is already completed.

“Our plans haven’t changed for Big Sky other than the dates,” Parnell said. “We are as committed to developing Big Sky as we ever were.”

Between Bureau and Lee counties, the Big Sky wind farm will have 114 turbines, each at 2.1 megawatt capacity, spread across 13,000 acres in Ohio, East Grove and May townships.

About two weeks ago, Midwest Wind Energy, the original developer of the Big Sky project, sold the project to Edison Mission Group, a subsidiary of Edison International. Midwest Wind continues to partner with the Big Sky project, Parnell said.

By Donna Barker

Tuesday, July 1, 2008