Keyser – According to the independent firm hired to conduct the decommissioning study for the Pinnacle Wind Farm, the net scrap value of the 23 wind turbines to be constructed on Green Mountain should exceed the cost of dismantling the entire wind farm, thus making the provision for an escrow bond unnecessary.
The report, completed by G.L. Garrad Hassan and distributed to the Mineral County Commissioners and local legislators on Monday, was released to the public Thursday evening at a meeting of the U.S. Wind Force Community Advisory Panel.
Although the meeting was called at the last minute once the report became available, it was well attended by panel members, Community Benefit Fund Committee members, county and municipal officials and representatives of the construction trades, among others.
Dave Friend, chairman and CEO of U.S. Wind Force, quickly went over the main points of the study, then the meeting was opened up to questions for a representative of Garrad Hassan, who participated via speaker phone.
Friend called the results of the report a “worst case scenario” proposed by Garrad Hassan which allowed for a positive difference of
$35,545 in the cost of decommissioning and the expected scrap value.
“They’re basically telling us its going to cost about $2.7 million to take it down and they expect to recoup $2.8 million for the scrap,” he said.
In a second scenario, if the wind turbines were to be sold on the secondary market for re-use, “they estimate it would be worth $8.8 million (to decommission) but they would net about $6 million,” he said.
Frank O’Hara, spokesperson for the anti-wind Allegheny Front Alliance, questioned the existence of a secondary wind turbine market, noting that turbines no longer in use in California were just left to deteriorate rather than be re-sold or scrapped.
Friend noted, however, that those wind farms were constructed some 15 or 20 years when the technology was in its infancy and the turbines were not as advanced as they are today.
Property owner Gary Wilson also noted that, “if a decommissioning agreement like this one were in effect in California, those rusting hulks wouldn’t be there today.”
The third scenario proposed by Garrad Hassan, according to Friend, is “in my estimation the most likely.” In that scenario, the wind farm would be kept in operation by updating the technology and maintaining the equipment.
In response to past criticisms about the way Garrad Hassan was chosen to do the decomissioning study, both Friend and Dave Cookman, president of U.S. Wind Force, emphasized Thursday night that they had recommended the firm to the Mineral County Commission because they came highly recommended.
To drive the point home, the Hassan representative confirmed that he had only first met either Friend or Cookman when they began negotiations for the study.
O’Hara then questioned him about other studies done by the company, and the representative promised to provide that information via email.
The actual escrow agreement to be signed between U.S. Wind Force and the county commissioners will be based on the findings of the Hassan study. The draft is currently in the hands of the attorneys for both sides.
The report and the agreement are both on the agenda for discussion at Tuesday’s commission meeting, along with several Mineral County residents who have asked to once again speak on the subject.