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Talk of Purdue energy farm still in the wind  

Credit:  Written by ERIC WEDDLE, www.jconline.com 29 November 2011 ~~

The developer of a proposed wind energy park on farmland owned by Purdue University and nearby privately owned property is optimistic it will become a reality despite delays in securing capital.

Performance Services, an Indianapolis-based engineering and construction company, has been seeking financial backers and a power purchase agreement since February for a turbine park planned for Purdue and private land in western Tippecanoe County.

But a rocky economy has slowed the progress, said Scott Zigmond, vice president of sales and marketing for Performance Service.

“We are just working through that,” he said. “All parties are interested in getting this pushed up, one way or another, because we believe this is a fantastic project for the state and for Purdue.”

The current proposal is for a 100-megawatt park consisting of 50 two-megawatt turbines. Purdue faculty and students would have access to the turbines for various research and teaching opportunities. Energy from the Purdue Energy Park – its proposed name – would be sold to a utility company.

In February, the company was selected by the Purdue Board of Trustees to work with the university on developing the project on 1,600 acres of mostly agriculture land at the Purdue Animal Sciences Research and Education Center 10 miles northwest of West Lafayette.

Ken Sandel, Purdue director of physical and capital planning, said the university’s primary financial interest is as landowner. The Purdue Research Foundation is overseeing the lease of land.

“If Performance Services can deliver a project, we will be very happy to work with them,” he said. “We are primed and ready.”

Zigmond said environmental studies and other regulatory issues are under way so the park could be operational by Dec. 31, 2012 – the cutoff date for tax credits on wind facilities. Zigmond said the federal program could result in savings up to a third of the park’s cost.

Unless lawmakers extend the date, financing would need to come through in the next 60 days. Nonetheless, the project will go forward, Zigmond said.

In addition to finances, Performance Services needs to strike a deal with a manufacturer of turbines.

General Electric Co. was originally announced as the turbine manufacturer for the park, but Scott said Monday that a deal was not finalized.

The total amount of the leasing agreement is still to be determined, Sandel said, adding the agreement would likely be for 30 years. Earlier this year, campus officials said the university would receive annual lease payments of approximately $10,000 per turbine.

The name Purdue Energy Park also would cover a 33-turbine wind energy farm known previously as Performance Park, which is slated to be developed on more than 2,400 acres of private land by Performance Services as the first wind farm in Tippecanoe County.

Source:  Written by ERIC WEDDLE, www.jconline.com 29 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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