Nordex, one of two companies exploring the possibility of building wind turbines on top of Wills Ridge in Floyd County, wants to partner with the community.
Three representatives from the company, including the project developer Andrew Rudersdorf, spoke to the Press Monday. Rudersdorf has been working in Floyd for about six months and has been talking with the owners of property on Wills Ridge. David D’Onofrio and Ben Kelahan with Nordex’s community outreach also visited the county last week.
Rudersdorf said he has spoken with the Board of Supervisors, but wants everyone in the county to know about the project. “We can’t do this project unless the community is on board.” He explained that since wind farms are new to this area and the state, “we really need to educate. We need to make sure everyone understands the benefits of a wind farm. We want communities to generate opinions based on the facts.”
The work Nordex is doing in the county now, Rudersdorf noted, is “very preliminary”. Plans include 15-20 towers, in the range of 30-50 megawatts along Wills Ridge. Nordex makes the turbines it will be putting up, he added. “We both develop and manufacture. The majority of companies you see only develop and they use other technology.”
The N117 turbines Nordex makes are 2.4 megawatt, high efficiency machines, Rudersdorf said. “They are very high efficiency for Class 3 (lower) wind speeds.”
Nordex, based in Germany with U.S. offices in Chicago, has its manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Rudersdorf said that facility is the company’s commitment “in providing American jobs to wind development in the U.S.” and the turbines that would be put up in Floyd County would be made in Jonesboro.
In terms of local job benefits associated with the building of a wind farm in Floyd County, Rudersdorf said even though plans are still in the preliminary stages, he estimates there would be “in the range of 100-150 construction jobs” and then during the operations period “probably in the range of 5-10 full-time positions….These are high paying jobs. There will be training for those jobs.” The training facility is located at the Arkansas plant.
Also, Rudersdorf, continued, “the magnitude of a 30-50 megawatt project is upwards to $100 million. The tax revenue for the county is extremely significant. We’re still crunching numbers….”
The other company looking at the possibility of a wind farm on Wills Ridge is Horizon Wind Energy LLC of Houston, Texas. Both companies are approaching the same landowners. A third company, Invenergy, which is also involved in the Poor Mountain project in Roanoke County, already has a temporary tower, measuring wind velocity and direction, in place near the intersection of Kyle Weeks Road and Union School Road in Floyd County.
“We are really looking forward to kicking off the wind measurement campaign and educating the community,” Rudersdorf told the Press Monday.
Rudersdorf said Nordex chose to look at Floyd County’s Wills Ridge for a wind farm because of its Class 3 wind resource and the proximity to transmission.
Since a wind farm in Floyd County would be one of the first wind farms in the state, Rudersdorf said his company would “want to set the precedent for wind farms” in Virginia. “We want to make sure we do it correct.”
Estimated time for development in such projects is about 5 years, with construction taking approximately 6 months to a year.
David Stafford, who with another man owns 225 acres on Wills Ridge and is one of the larger landowners in the project area, has been approached by both companies. He said he is “leaning more toward Nordex,” who was the first company to talk to him.
Stafford, who currently lives in Pearisburg, hopes to be living in Floyd in about five years.
As for wind energy, Stafford said, “I think it’s a really good thing. We need to be looking for alternative sources…cleaner solutions to the problem.”
Stafford said he knows there is opposition to a wind farm in Floyd County, but he has seen wind farms in other places. “I actually enjoy seeing something like that…seeing the turbines turning….I saw them out west.” He said most of the wind farms he has seen are not near homes, “but you drove by them and you can see them, which to me was very interesting.”
He said the noise is a “swooshing” noise. “Once you get 50 yards away from it, you couldn’t even hear it.”
Stafford added wind energy is “clean” and from what he understands, “depending on the amount of wind,” a farm would be “generating quite a bit of electricity. I know we might not benefit directly from it here…but there are a lot of jobs to be created because of it, not only in installation, but also the daily mechanics of it.”
Rudersdorf said, “Overall, the response (Nordex has received) has been very positive.” Nordex wants “to show our commitment to this community – that we can do this project and have a lot of local benefits.”
He stated the wind farm is an “opportunity to be able to form a partnership with Floyd while producing clean, renewable energy and economic development the community needs….The project would be a positive milestone for the community in terms of financial and environmental benefits.”
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