- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Residents tour wind farm site

Several hundred people fulfilled their curiosities about the AES Laurel Mountain Wind Farm project by attending a public open house on Saturday. People attending the event were given the opportunity to see the windmills up-close with a tour provided by the company.

John Arose, general manager of the AES project at Laurel Mountain, provided an update on the wind farm and answered questions from the public. He said 61 turbines are already erected along the 12.5 mile stretch of Laurel Mountain crossing parts of Barbour and Randolph counties. Of the 61 turbines, Arose said 17 are located in Randolph County and 44 are in Barbour.

“This was a great opportunity to meet with the community and talk about the issues and clear up some of the rumors that have been going around about the wind industry and how efficient the turbines are,” Arose said.

“This gives them an up-close look at the project and the chance to get inside and see the turbines.”

Arose said the wind farm project is both socially and economically beneficial to the community. He said it created nearly 350 construction jobs during the initial phases and now has 13 full time employees. He said it would also generate $450,000 in county taxes and $340,000 in state taxes, annually.

“We want to be very involved in the community,” Arose said. “We have a social responsibility and we want to get involved in some of the local programs. We make charitable contributions and we pay into the state and county tax base. In turn, that helps them fund more programs.”

He explained the turbine foundations use approximately 45,000 pounds of rebar and 500 yards of concrete. Blades on the windmills are 70 feet in length and a gear box behind the blades weighs 140 tons. Approximately 2,000 acres that the windmills are on are leased from landowners in Randolph and Barbour counties, while AES owns 30 acres. He said the total cost of the project is nearly $250 million.

“We wanted the event to be educational,” Arose said. “Most of the local people have been very positive and supportive of AES and the project. We just wanted to give them a chance to see the turbines and answer any of their questions.”

The power generated by the turbines will supply energy to approximately 14,000 households in the northeast region of the United States. Arose added that the power would add to the overall stability of the regional grid. To complete the turbines, $239 million in capital has been invested, while revenue will be from energy sales and renewable energy credit sales.

AES has 25 years of experience in wind power generation projects. Aside from West Virginia, Arose said the company has projects in California, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Indiana. He said the company is one of 60 companies that comprise the Dow Jones Index. He said it has 29,000 employees world-wide and more than $40 billion in assets.