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Savoy’s wind farm delayed  

Credit:  By Ryan Hutton, North Adams Transcript, www.thetranscript.com 28 April 2011 ~~

SAVOY – The proposed wind farm on West Hill has been delayed on two fronts, but Minuteman Wind LLC executives said they are not giving up on the project.

The project was in the process of finding a company to purchase the power it would generate when a lawsuit by the Canadian-based power generation and management firm TransCanada against a separate project forced the state legislature to open up renewable energy projects’ power to out-of-state firms. This forced Minuteman to go back to square one in finding a power purchaser.

While this caused a delay in financing the project, Minuteman Vice President Steven Weisman said it is not the project’s biggest stumbling point.

“The power-purchase agreement would have been nice,” he said. “But the real issue in terms of forward progress has been the wetlands permitting.”

The company did an original wetlands assessment of the site five years ago when it began the process, but that data became “shockingly out of date after five years of delays”, according to Minuteman President Donald McCauley.

For more than five years, the Framingham-based company has been trying to develop a wind farm on 290 acres of West Hill. The farm – expected to cost roughly $35 million – would consist of five, 400-foot wind turbines capable of putting out 12.5 megawatts of power. While no exact numbers have been worked out, similar projects in other towns
have resulted in payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements of roughly $250,000 per year.

Weisman said the Savoy Conservation Commission asked the company to refresh its wetlands data last fall.

“Well, Savoy got covered in four feet of snow not long after that, and we haven’t been able to get out there again until now,” he said. “But we are making arrangements with the company that did the wetlands analysis to get back out there in the field again.”

Once the new wetlands delineation is completed, Weisman said he is confidant that the conservation commission will approve the project. He added that putting a project like this together involves a lot of moving parts including finding financing, clearing local permits, actual construction and interconnection to the power grid. He said the company is continuing to work aggressively on all fronts, but there are some steps that are more urgent than others at this point.

“If the project isn’t permitted properly, it can’t be built,” he said. “So getting those permits is critical to moving toward construction. But, if we can’t interconnect, we can’t sell the power we produce.”

Weisman said he is encouraged that costs are actually coming down because of the national and regional economy and will result in being able to offer cheaper power.

Last year, the company said it hoped to start construction on the wind farm this summer. Weisman said that deadline has been pushed back, but he hopes the company can start construction sometime this calendar year.

“We’re still very committed to the project,” he said. “We still plan to be in operation by sometime in 2012.”

Source:  By Ryan Hutton, North Adams Transcript, www.thetranscript.com 28 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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