KEYSER – The Pinnacle Wind Farm is a “ready-to-go project” and site work on Green Mountain should begin some time this spring, according to Dave Friend, chairman and CEO of U.S. Wind Force. Friend, who spoke to the members and guests of the U.S. Wind Force Community Advisory Panel on Thursday, noted that all the necessary permits for the construction are in place.
Friend, who spoke to the members and guests of the U.S. Wind Force Community Advisory Panel on Thursday, noted that all the necessary permits for the construction are in place and one of the few things that remain to be done are the finalization of the escrow agreement between Wind Force and Mineral County and verification of the completion of the decommissioning study to be sent to the West Virginia Public Service Commission.
“We have to file a pre-construction statement with the Public Service Commission and then we’re just waiting on the weather,” he said.
The study, conducted by consultants G.L. Garrad Hassan, was required by the WV PSC as part of the permitting process, and the report on Hassan’s findings was released last week. In essence, the report stated that, since the scrap value of the turbines would exceed the estimated cost of dismantling, no escrow bond would be needed.
The escrow agreement, designed to lay
out the details for the decommissioning process and ensure that enough money will be available to cover that process, must nevertheless be signed by the developer and the county. A draft of the agreement is currently in the hands of attorneys for both sides.
Although the agreement is not on the agenda for Tuesday’s Mineral County Commission meeting, several people have asked for appointments to speak on the topic, including Frank O’Hara, spokesperson for the Allegany Front Alliance (AFA): Rick Linthicum; Kolin Jan; Dave Friend and two appointments that were just listed as “AFA representative.”
The county commissioners have said they cannot act or comment on the proposed agreement until it is approved by the attorneys.
Friend estimates that the construction phase of the project will result in approximately 150-200 jobs, and once the project is up and running, there will be between five and six permanent operation and management positions.
One of the other benefits which the county stands to gain from the project is the availability of grant funding for various community projects and organizations through the wind farm’s Community Benefit Fund.
Friend said they will start taking applications for the funding as soon as construction begins, and “the funds will be available at the time of commercial operation.”
Grant funding in the amount of a total of $50,000 will be available the first year; with an additional $10,000 to be made available for historic preservation.
“After that, $20,000 a year will be available every year for the life of the project,”’ he said.
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