A wind developer is serious about operating turbines in Hartsville, a turn-around from just a year ago.
If all goes well, according to Doug Colbeck, vice president of Northeast development for the German energy company E.On, there will be wind turbines in Hartsville.
“We’re going to basically get going on the permitting process,” Colbeck said. “We wouldn’t be spending the money if we didn’t think we could get it approved.”
According to Colbeck, the company’s predecessor, Airtricity, held off on development because there was not enough weather data to determine if there is enough wind in Hartsville.
E.On, a German-owned company, purchased the North American division of the Irish-run Airtricity in October 2007.
“They’re (E.On) very interested in developing their wind portfolio here in the U.S.,” Colbeck said, adding the company is operating a wind farm in Hamilton and is planning or operating wind farms in Pennsylvania and through the western United States. “The market changes all the time.”
There have been several stops in the project so far, Colbeck said, adding there may be more in the future.
“A project lives and dies a thousand times before it gets off the ground,” he said. “We’re going to make the commitment.”
While getting the permits and negotiations completed, Colbeck said, one of the most important group of negotiations have been completed for some time.
“Most of our landowners are already signed up,” he said, adding no list of participating landowners is currently available to the public, but one will be included in the permit application.
According to Colbeck, E.On is looking at developing between 50 and 80 megawatts of power production at the site, which would mean between 33 and 46 turbines, but there are many factors that will play a role.
“Ultimately, we’re going to have to look at constructibility, wetlands issues and environmental impact,” he said, adding the number of turbines is not set in stone.
The turbines are expected to cover a large swath of ground in the town, Colbeck said, with some turbines in the north and some in the south.
While E.On is moving forward, Hartsville town Supervisor Steve Dombert is looking forward to what the townspeople will see in terms of compensation for the project’s impact on the town of around 500 residents.
Dombert, who was elected after a vocal campaign against the way previous town officials handled the project, said he is not fundamentally against wind power in Hartsville.
“I’m against it if it’s a bad deal, but I’m in favor of it if it’s a good package that helps people,” he said. “We need to look at the people who are being impacted but are being overlooked.”
The development – and the way the town board handled it – lead to the resignations of former Supervisor Amy Emerson and Deputy Supervisor George Prior. According to Dombert, the problems with the town board involved transferring lead agency status to Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, thus removing the town’s voice from the application process, as well as incomplete disclosure from town officials of their interest in the wind project.
With the town’s say in negotiations gone, Dombert believes it is hard to know what the town is getting out of the project.
“The problem is we don’t understand what we’re being offered,” he said, adding he is trying to get someone from E.On and SCIDA to come to a town board meeting and explain the Payment in Lieu of Taxes proposal and the community host agreement.
By Bob Clark
26 July 2008
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