Blair County and surrounding areas have reached a peak in identifying potential locations for wind turbine projects, a Gamesa project developer said.
Unless technology improves, it’s not likely that more turbine projects will be proposed in the area, project developer Greg Elko said while walking the grounds of the Chestnut Flats Wind Farm in Logan Township.
Part of Elko’s job is to look for wind turbine sites and evaluate their potential.
“A lot of the low-hanging fruit in this area has already been picked for these sites,” Elko said.
Construction of the Chestnut Flats project, with 19 turbines, is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.
When it does, it will be the second wind farm inside Blair County. The Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm has 90 turbines in Juniata and Greenfield townships in Blair County and Cresson, Portage and Washington townships in Cambria County.
Meanwhile, construction has started on the Sandy Ridge Wind Farm near Tyrone that will extend from Snyder Township in Blair County and into Taylor and Rush townships in Centre County.
The first phase of the Sandy Ridge project involves building nine turbines. That phase is scheduled to be done by the end of December, said construction manager Chris Edwards, who is working on that project and the Chestnut Flats project. An additional 16 turbines are to be built next year.
Electricity generated by the Chestnut Flats wind turbines will be transmitted to its Mill Run substation and fed into the nearby Penelec transmission lines.
“The only interaction we have with wind turbine projects is to give them a metering point and interconnection to our system,” Penelec spokeswoman Beverly Green said.
Ray Dotter, a spokesman for PJM which manages the wholesale electric market for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, said that electricity garnered from a wind turbine project, if bought by Penelec, would go into a grid for distribution throughout the electric system.
“You can’t track an electron to know that it went from the wind farm to my house at the bottom of the hill,” Dotter said.
The addition of wind farm electricity into the grid may be beneficial depending on the other producers of electricity, Dotter said.
“Wind, other than nuclear and hydro, is the cheapest way to produce electricity … so if it can displace more expensive ways to produce electricity [such as through the use of natural gas or coal], that would reduce the cost,” Dotter said.
Demand also factors into the cost, he added.
“What we do is make sure we have enough power from all sources,” Dotter said.