The Bethlehem Authority is searching for a new partner to start a wind business on the breezy ridges surrounding the city’s water supply in the Poconos.
The agreement with a wind energy developer, Call Mountain Wind, was derailed, in part, over the amount of money the authority would make from the energy to be harnessed by wind turbines.
The authority entered into the letter of intent with the idea that it would get either 4 percent of the gross revenue or $10,000 per megawatt produced each year – whichever is higher.
But since that letter, one of the Call Mountain Wind’s partners backed out and the new partner wouldn’t accept the per megawatt price, according to Steve Repasch, the authority’s executive director. As a result, the authority and Call Mountain Wind did not execute a license agreement.
The authority terminated the letter of intent with Call Mountain Wind in October, and has since received interest from 10-12 other companies, Repasch said.
The authority could make a decision as early as March on a new partner.
“The Bethlehem Authority is still interested in the project, and we’ve gotten some interest,” Repasch said.
The change up comes nearly nine months after City Council voted to support the authority’s quest. The authority, the financial arm of the city’s water business, owns the 23,000-acre watershed in Monroe and Carbon counties and the city leases it.
The authority had expected to kick off its wind business this year with tests to determine the windiest spots along Call Mountain, Pohopoco Mountain and Stoney Ridge in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County.
Testing could take one to two years before turbines are installed to harness the wind to feed the power grid.
The authority last spring received estimates that the business could bring it between $13.8 and $14.6 million over 25 years.
Under the old proposal, the wind farm was to include an estimated 27 turbines, likely standing 350 feet from ground to blade tip, that would produce 43.2 megawatts. That would power approximately 16,000 houses. The energy would be sold to the highest bidder.
The authority has already spent $29,500 on the venture and received $9,000 fees from the requests for proposals.
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