A second wind farm is on “Logan County’s horizon.
On the heels of Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy receiving a conditional-use permit from the Logan County Board to erect 29 wind turbines in the Emden area, another company said Wednesday it plans to construct a wind farm in another part of the county.
The farm, to be called Sugar Creek Wind One, has already started the process of contacting landowners in the New Holland and Middletown areas to obtain land leases for turbines.
Stan Komperda, a consultant with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates – a Springfield firm providing engineering, environmental consulting, construction and information technology – announced Wednesday a joint effort of American Wind Energy Management and Oak Creek Energy Systems to begin the process of erecting turbines in the county.
American Wind is a subsidiary of a German-based company and Oak Creek is a California energy corporation.
“The box is basically from the Logan/Mason line between New Holland and Middletown,” said Komperda. “The south boundary will be Salt Creek.
“Right now, we’re looking at (constructing) two-megawatt machines with a height of 105 meters … that would be the highest.”
Komperda said the targeted area, encompassing several thousand acres, is a perfect setting for the use of a wind farm.
“Salt Creek is very flat and there are few trees between Sugar and Salt creeks,” said Komperda. “There are no ground obstacles, and two high transmission lines are already in place.”
The company hasn’t decided exactly how many turbines will be erected. It will soon erect meteorological towers to gauge wind speeds and find the best-suited turbine locations. Sugar Creek Wind One is proposing to build a 300-megawatt system, but Komperda said the figure is subject to change, depending on the capacity of the grid.
No permits have been applied for at this point, but Komperda said the company has spoken with Logan County zoning officer Will D’Andrea and Logan County engineer Brett Aukamp about the use of the county’s Geographical Information System to map out the farm.
The company wants to have the permit process done by winter and approved by next spring.
Komperda said Sugar Creek Wind One representatives initially approached landowners in the area in March and have held follow-up talks with the landowners this month. He said the overall reactions from area residents have been positive.
“They wondered about the connection with other projects … we are not connected to Horizon,” said Komperda. “The meetings were about who we are, what we’re doing, why we’re doing it – and, we wanted to replace myths with facts.”
He said some farmers have voiced concerns about how much agricultural space the turbines would take up.
“As a rule of thumb, each turbine will take up a quarter of an acre,” said Komperda, noting that the area includes the 15-foot wide access roads to the towers. “If you have three machines, you’ll likely have less than an acre, but it also depends on how they’re laid out.
“This is an excellent way for the agricultural community to benefit from their land.”
Komperda said landowners would be compensated based on a percentage of the “project box.”
“Everyone will benefit by a per-acre payment, a payment for each turbine, a payment for each transmission line and road access,” said Komperda. “If you have 80 acres and a contract with the company, and because of setbacks, we couldn’t use your property for a turbine – but, we used it for road access or a transmission line – you would still be compensated for the whole 80 acres.
“Each landowner receives (a portion) of 4 percent of the project gross. Seventy percent of the 4 percent pays for each acre, while 20 percent of the 4 percent pays for each turbine.”
Komperda said the company watched Horizon’s progress in Logan County, before making a decision on when and how to move forward with its local plans. He called the observation of Horizon’s endeavor a learning experience.
“Public outreach is always important,” said Komperda. “And you want to make sure to follow procedures, as they are spelled out.”
Echoing comments made by officials from Rail Splitter Wind Farm, Komperda said Sugar Creek Wind One’s project will provide a boost to the local economy.
“There will be the initial construction work to put the roads in and aggregate work for the foundations,” Komperda said. “There will also be secondary jobs, involving industrial work and diesel fuel, and a maintenance phase with hired technicians who drive around to check the towers and conduct maintenance.”
Komperda said the company’s philosophy is to hire locally and train locally.
“We look for local people,” said Komperda. “We want people who live in the area and are familiar with Logan County.”
By Joshua Niziolkiewicz
31 July 2008
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