Pittsburgh EverPower Wind Holdings Inc., the developer of Pennsylvania’s Twin Ridges Wind Farm, is asking the city of Frostburg for an easement to build a generator lead line underneath the streets of the city.
“Initial meetings with the city and with several of the neighbors who live along the proposed route have been very supportive and encouraging,” said Harry Benson, senior director of development for EverPower, at Thursday’s City Council meeting.
A public hearing on the project will be scheduled as part of the council’s March 17 meeting.
The 1.5-mile line would connect the proposed 150-megawatt wind project located on Big Savage Mountain in Somerset County, Pa., to the Allegheny Power Frostburg No. 1 Substation, located just south of the intersection of state Route 936 and Welsh Hill Road. It would be installed entirely underground within the city limits by a licensed general contractor to meet or exceed all safety and precaution standards for setbacks from other utilities.
“We have been working hard to minimize impacts the project will have on the citizens of Frostburg and Allegany County. To accomplish this, we have been working with Frostburg’s CME Engineering and with Pike Electric, an expert in underground cable line installation,” said Benson. “Together we have selected the best route, designed the best line and will construct it in a fashion that will minimize impact on the city’s residents.”
“We are only concerned with the easement and the technical aspects of the underground line,” said John Kirby, city administrator. “We aren’t concerned with where or how the electricity is generated. We have no say in that.”
Benson added, “This project will be good for the city.” It will bring new jobs to the region, a new source of revenue through easement payments to the city and local landowners, and new significant tax revenue to the city and county, he said. “For example, we are burying the line the entire 1.5-mile stretch in the city. Furthermore, we are directionally boring under the two main roads we cross – Main Street and 936. We do this in part, so that we don’t need to stop traffic or affect businesses on those busy streets and to reduce the line’s visibility in the city.
“There are also positive short- and long-term economic impacts it will have on the region,” Benson continued. “Locally, the construction of the line is estimated to create 37 temporary construction jobs and 1.5 permanent jobs.”
The Twin Ridges Wind Farm will have an expected $200 million economic impact on the region, according to Benson. During construction, approximately 200 full- and part-time workers, mostly drawn from the local labor pool, will be required to build access roads and construct turbines. Approximately $5 million will be spent locally on construction materials such as steel rebar, crushed aggregate, concrete and fencing.
Land will be leased from private landowners, who in Maryland will receive more than $3 million over 25 years and in Pennsylvania, more than $1.5 million per year, Benson said. The project will also create seven to 10 full-time positions and several more part-time positions to operate and maintain the wind farm once operational.
It is estimated that state, county, city and school districts will share more than $3 million in tax revenue over the life of the project.
The Twin Ridges Wind Farm project has already created several jobs in the area, including CME Engineering hiring four full-time positions, Benson said. Future work will require hiring two additional full-time staff members.
The proposed line would enter Frostburg city limits from the north and travel south across Maryland Avenue, south on Barnard Street, crossing Main Street. The line will move south on Sleeman Street across Route 936 and then south down the old C&P Railroad easement to the Allegheny Power Substation.
“We have worked very hard with our contractor to make sure we can complete the line as quickly as possible with also the least impact on the neighborhoods the line will go through,” said Dave Berthelsen, EverPower’s director of construction. “EverPower prides itself on being a good neighbor and we hope to strengthen our reputation with how we work with the city and its residents.”
The project will be worked on in 80- to 100-foot long sections, with each section taking anywhere from two days to a week and two to four days to repave dependent on weather and if anything under the road needs to be fixed, according to Benson. All permit applications have been submitted and should EverPower get the go-ahead, it hopes to start construction in the summer.
The Twin Ridges Wind Farm will provide enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 40,000 homes.
EverPower has one commercial wind farm in operation, the 62.5-MW Highland Wind Project in Cambria County, Pa. Construction of the Highland North Wind Farm, a 75-MW wind farm in Cambria County, is expected to begin in April. The company has offices in New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, Ore., and Bellefontaine, Ohio, and is currently developing wind farm projects in several states.
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