SUNBURY – More than 1 1/2 years after signing a lease with Northumberland County for 75 acres in Coal and East Cameron townships, Penn Wind LLC plans to start clearing property next month for three wind turbines.
Justin Dunkelberger, chief executive officer for Penn Wind, said the county will receive 6 percent of the profits from electricity generated by the turbines under the 29-year lease agreement.
Dunkelberger met recently with Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi to discuss plans to begin clearing trees to allow for the installation of three turbines on county-owned property and another three turbines on privately-owned land.
“The project is moving forward,” Clausi said. “It’s just a matter of time before it becomes a reality. I’m looking forward to working with Penn Wind for the benefit of the taxpayers of Northumberland County.”
Clausi said union employees will be hired to construct the turbines, which he estimated will generate $6 million in the workforce.
Dunkelberger said he expects the turbines to arrive in the second quarter of 2012 and be operational by October.
The wind turbine project has been delayed by a slow economy and Penn Wind’s search for partners.
At the time the $30 million project was announced, Dunkelberger said he anticipated it would require 100 full-time and 85 part-time positions in design, management and maintenance.
In 2007, the prior county board of commissioners comprised of Frank Sawicki, Kurt Masser and Sam Deitrick signed a lease agreement with Penn Wind for 1,000 acres in Coal and East Cameron townships near the Schuylkill County border. That deal called for the county to receive a flat annual fee of $56,000.
But current Commissioner Vinny Clausi argued that taxpayers should receive more money. In April 2010, Penn Wind and the county agreed to a deal that has the county collecting 6 percent of the profits, or potentially nearly $4 million over the life of the contract.
If the turbines aren’t erected by spring, Clausi said the county will begin receiving $56,000 per year until they are constructed.
Dunkelberger said the 2007 lease agreement involved site work and property rights to determine the most suitable area where the turbines could be constructed. He said land not needed under the lease agreement reverted to the county. He said the new lease agreement involves only 75 acres of county-owned property in Coal and East Cameron townships.
The CEO said he expects a press conference to be held within a few weeks outlining more specifics about the wind turbine project.
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