SOMERSET-— The Twin Ridges Wind Farm is in the permitting stage.
Harry Benson, senior director of development for EverPower Wind Holdings, said Wednesday that permits are still needed from Somerset County, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Most of the land development plans have been filed with the Somerset County Planning Commission and 39 locations have been approved. The company would like to clear ground by the end of the year.
Approximately 60 wind turbine generators will be located in Southampton, Northampton, Larimer and Greenville townships. The project is in Somerset County, but the interconnection point for the electrical grid is in Frostburg, Md. When completed the wind farm will provide up to 150 megawatts, or enough energy to power more than 80,000 homes. The size of the turbines is being finalized, but the hub height will be about 262 feet. Wind turbine components stockpiled along the Berlin Plank Road (Route 219) are not owned by that company.
“It’s going well,” Benson said. “There are 77 landowners. It will be the biggest wind farm in Somerset County, but not the biggest in Pennsylvania.”
Dan Lagiovane, spokesman for EverPower, said the land is mixed use but mostly forested ridge area. All the landowners together with the leaseholders in Maryland for the generator lead line will share approximately $1 million to $2 million per year in royalty, easement and other payments.
“It remains a great economic opportunity for the region,” Benson said. “This is different from other projects because of the number of landowners.”
During construction about 200 full- and part-time workers, mostly local residents, will be needed to build access roads and construct turbines, Lagiovane said. An additional $5 million will be spent locally on materials such as steel rebar, crushed aggregate, concrete and fencing. Once operational seven to 10 full-time employees will be required. Almost $2 million in local goods and services will be required for its operation and maintenance.
Local governments will also benefit. The townships will share up to $240,000 a year in payments through development agreements. Berlin Brothersvalley and Meyersdale school districts will divide up to $93,000 a year in taxes. Somerset County will receive up to $37,000 a year in taxes once the wind farm is operational.
“EverPower, as a renewable energy developer, also employs responsible siting, construction and operating practices to lessen any impact its projects may have on the environment and region,” Lagiovane said.
EverPower currently has one commercial wind farm in this region, the Highland Wind Project in Cambria County, which is being expanded. The company has projects under development in seven states. EverPower has offices in New York, Pittsburgh, Portland, Ore., and Bellefontaine, Ohio. EverPower is owned by its employees and the private equity firm Terra Firma.
“EverPower is a good partner for the community,” Benson said. “We’re in this for the long term. We’re operators of wind farms. Domestically based energy is very important today. We need American-made energy.”
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