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Wind farm moving toward Dec. 31 goal; roads still a concern for neighbors  

Credit:  By Jean Braithwaite, Tribune Correspondent, Mineral Daily News-Tribune, www.newstribune.info 18 November 2011 ~~

PINNACLE – The goal of having the Pinnacle Wind Farm at NewPage commissioned by Dec. 31 continues for Edison Mission Energy and was a topic of discussion at a recent Community Advisory meeting.
Joe Bocian, Edison project manager, told those at the meeting, “It is almost done,” adding that all 23 turbines are up, the substation and switchyard have been tested, and the site is clean.
A.L.L. Construction, the primary civil contractor for the project, is presently in the process of grading and seeding the site.
Bocian also stated, “The substation, transmission line, and interconnect line is complete,” with a time of testing the turbines now underway.
W.R. Casteel constructed the interconnection switchyard, where the project connects to the grid, at the expense of Pinnacle.
FirstEnergy is the owner of the transmission line, and they are completing electrical testing.
Giving additional updates on the wind farm, Bocian said the measure of success with Edison and the Pinnacle project is realized with the compliance of safety issues, noting during construction, “There were three minor accidents and no serious injuries.”
Bill Ashby, Edison’s project engineer, spoke about road conditions along the route of Pinnacle Road, where heavy equipment and turbine parts were transported to the project.
He also mentioned the conditions of Tasker Road, the area where trucks transported clay-bedding material for the substation and switchyard sites.
“We are working closely with DOH in a five-step process to repair the roads,” Ashby said.
He did offer a “thanks” to people along the turbine delivery route for “your endurance” during the arrival of turbine components.
Saying that along with Edison and DOH, Ashby pointed out the road repairs will be evaluated in the spring “to see what else may need done.”
Although the road repairs remain one of the top objectives of Edison Mission Energy, several people at the advisory meeting were concerned with the present conditions of Pinnacle and Tasker roads.
Donnie Ashby, living along the Pinnacle Road, said he had received “numerous phone calls” all dealing with road conditions.
“We will live with the windmills for the next 20 to 30 years, and we feel we have been forgotten,” he said referring to his desire of having the Pinnacle Road paved from end to end.
Bocian explained that project representatives have always said that the roads will be in the condition they were or even better when the project is completed.
“We will put the roads back in the condition as they were before construction began and this was expressed in a developer’s agreement with the DOH,” he said.
Adding to this, Bocian said, “We have put $2 million in roadwork.”
George Tasker, a resident of Pinnacle Road, said, “Everyone on the Pinnacle Road is very disappointed with the road conditions.”
“We thought we would have a better road,” he said.
D. Ashby said the people near the wind farm “are not unhappy with the project,” but thought they would get a “good road.”
Bocian said of the $2 million, “about $800,000” was used to widen turns, and the remaining amount was used for any damage made by delivery trucks.
“We have met the obligation to repair the roads,” he said.
Speaking about the obligation, Bocian said, the DOH and Edison videotaped the roads prior to the start of construction of the wind farm, and when repairs are finalized, “They will be the same or better than before.”
Prior to the start of construction on the wind farm, both Pinnacle and Tasker roads had a tar and chip surface.
Dave Friend, CEO of US WindForce, the developers of Pinnacle Wind Farm, told those present at the meeting it was never intended for the project to pay to repave the entire road.
“We don’t believe we mislead anyone,” he said, citing the message has been consistent on how the damage to the roads would be handled.
Friend did point out the major improvements with a widened intersection at Sulphur, additional widening the areas near the Smith residence, at the turn near the Tasker residence, and where a large culvert ran under the Pinnacle Road.
“We have met our task,” he said.
Jim Cookman, president of US.WindForce, mentioned the large culvert that was the “infamous five foot cattle crossing under the road,” was not part of the original design for improvements along Pinnacle Road.
“Edison decided to expand and widen this section of the road,” he said, based on input from Pinnacle Road residents and their safety concerns.
Cookman also mentioned the turn near the Tasker residence, and cited the equipment trucks could have with the owner’s permission “overhung the inside corners,” but according to Edison’s design, “It called for taking out the 90 degree turn.”
Local resident Larry McVay offered a suggestion for taking steps for safety along Pinnacle Road, by adding “fog lines” along the road near the Smith house and the intersection near the Sulphur Methodist Church.
Bocian said that he would present this idea to the DOH for their consideration.

Source:  By Jean Braithwaite, Tribune Correspondent, Mineral Daily News-Tribune, www.newstribune.info 18 November 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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