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Firm seeks third wind farm in Montezuma Hills  

Credit:  By Melissa Murphy / The Reporter, Vacaville, www.contracostatimes.com 15 September 2010 ~~

More wind turbines would dot the Montezuma Hills landscape under a proposal that could go to county officials as early as next month.

After building two large wind resource projects in the Montezuma Hills, south of Highway 12, enXco is back with an added proposal, Shiloh III, a 120-megawatt project with 59 turbines on 4,600 acres of farm land.

The $300 million project is in the middle of the environmental impact report process and officials hope to have it in front of the Solano County Planning Commission in October.

Mark Tholke, Southwest region director for enXco, said that Shiloh III is an infill project and, once built will be difficult to distinguish from Shiloh I and II.

The farm land will be leased to enXco for 20 years as part of a power purchase agreement. Meanwhile, farmers can still use the land under the large turbines for agricultural purposes.

There are 32 parcels, represented by 20 landowner groups that make up the 4,600 acres, according to Bonnie Hays, public affairs consultant representing enXco.

Tholke also explained that enXco is taking a new approach to accumulating information on the benefits a project of this size will have on the local economy.

“The wind resource industry has understated the economic impacts,” Tholke said. “We want to get better information on job impacts and revenue.”

That’s why the company hired a third party consultant to evaluate the project, officials said.

Dr. Robert Fountain, a regional economics consultant, said after reviewing the project, he believes Shiloh III is a “private stimulus package” in that revenue will stay local.

“It creates a very steady income and will help stable the county economy,” he said.

Fountain’s report explains that the construction phase is estimated to occur during a six- to nine- month period, with a one-time economic potential benefit of $85.4 million in revenue to local businesses, governments and households; and 487 full-time jobs with $27.4 million in employee compensation.

During the initial year of operation, the report shows there will be more than $4 million in total revenue and 36 full-time jobs. After 20 years that equals to $83.7 million in revenue.

Fountain also explains that with new jobs, employees in turn will spend their money in the county, generating an estimated $84,000 in sales tax and $2.3 million in property taxes for the initial year.

“This is further proof that local government wins big in the long term,” Fountain said.

Mike Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, said he is excited about the project and the opportunity to harvest a natural resource.

He added that it shows just how diverse the county is between carbon-based energy and renewable energy and that wind resource projects not only benefit Solano County, but is a sizable contribution to renewable power to Northern California.

“It’s very modern and highly efficient,” he said of the Shiloh projects. “We’re real happy with that.”

Source:  By Melissa Murphy / The Reporter, Vacaville, www.contracostatimes.com 15 September 2010

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

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