With all the attention locally on the Blue Creek Wind Farm being constructed by Iberdrola Renewables, it is easy to forget that there are other wind farm projects in development for this area. Horizon Wind Energy has three separate projects on the drawing board, one of which could be completed and online by mid-summer next year.
“It’s three different projects, with one of those projects to be built in two phases,” explained Horizon Project Manager Erin Bowser. “The project that is farthest along is Timber Road II Wind Farm. It is 150 megawatts (MW) in Benton and Harrison townships in Paulding County. We will build this first project in phases, so we will start with the Benton Township part of the project first and build everything south of St. Rd. 613. That will be 55 turbines. It looks like construction could start on that phase could start as soon as the end of this month.”
The other phase of Timber Road II will mostly be built in Harrison Township of Paulding County with approximately 28 turbines generating about 50 MW. Timber Road I in Harrison Township will have around 30 turbines generating 48.6 MW of power.
According to Bowser, Timber Road I already has been awarded a permit by the Ohio Power Siting Board and Timber Road II will receive its permit once that agency meets on Nov. 18 in Columbus.
The other project, Timber Road III, could generate 200 MW of power with turbines in Blue Creek and Paulding townships in Paulding County and also Tully Township in Van Wert County.
“Timber Road III is still in the development phase, so we are still meeting with landowners and partnering with them in lease agreements,” Bowser reported. “By the end of the first quarter of next year, we will likely submit our application to the state to get our permit. That’s about a six to nine month process from the state. When we build our additional phases depends on the permit and on selling the power to a utility.”
Bowser estimated that the third project will probably be build in 2012.
Adding up the totals, the three Timber Road farms from Horizon and the already-under-construction project from Iberdrola could put approximately 400 wind turbines on the landscape, spread between northern Van Wert County and southern Paulding County. Bowser admitted that the total is large, but she said supporting that many turbines will not be a problem.
She answered, “As you look at counties in Illinois and Indiana, you see more than two companies building in the same two or three county area. This is something that the wind industry has figured out, both how to solidify your stronghold in a certain area and build your project, and also through the competitive land process, figure out your territory. There won’t be a situation where the projects intermingle. There will be pretty clear boundaries between the projects when it’s all said and done.”
That number could increase further with the development of a wind farm by Northwest Ohio Wind Energy. That firm is looking to a 300 MW wind farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties, adding possibly another 150 turbines. To the south, BP Wind Energy is recruiting land owners to lease land for a wind farm in the southern part of Van Wert County.
Both counties have declared themselves Alternative Energy Zones, resolving the property tax situation for these projects. At present, Horizon is in the process of negotiating a road agreement withPaulding County Engineer Travis McGarvey, county commissioners and township trustees.
To the untrained eye, determining the differences between turbines in the Timber Road Wind Farm and the Blue Creek Wind Farm will be difficult. Bowser noted that Horizon uses a more linear pattern for the turbine locations. She explained, “It is basically in straight lines, north to south. It’s a layout we started doing in Indiana. Landowners really liked that, and we’ve brought it to Ohio.”
But there are enough similarities that people in Paulding County have been keeping a close watch to the south. “People in Paulding have been so interested to watch the start of what Iberdrola is doing down here,” Bowser confirmed. “People in Benton Township, the landowners and the community overall, seem really excited about it starting.”
The choice of turbine has been determined for Timber Road II, but there is no firm decision on the style to be used in Timber Road I or Timber Road III. The 480-foot Vestus V-100 has already been selected for Timber Road II – a model very similar in size to those being readied for Iberdrola’s project.
Still to come in the upcoming weeks at the Timber Road project is a deal to sell the power generated by the wind farm. Emergency training and a final pre-construction meeting are also on the agenda before dirt starts to fly. The meeting is being planned as a kick-off dinner with the contractor, Horizon’s construction manager and Bowser walking everyone through what will be happening in the next few months.
Bowser pointed out that much of the excitement about the project is due to doubts about it in the first place. “I think it’s one of those things where two years ago, a lot of members of the community or landowners would have said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s never going to happen.’ It just seemed out of reach,” she reasoned.
Already an inkling of what the area will look like in two years is taking shape. With 400 or more huge wind turbines online, this area will become an important piece in the wind energy industry.
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