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Officials get view of wind farm data  

Credit:  By Tina Alvey, Register-Herald Reporter | www.register-herald.com 27 September 2012 ~~

The anticipated expansion of the Beech Ridge Wind Farm will bring a financial windfall to Greenbrier County, according to data shared with the county commission.

Erik Duncan, an official with Invenergy, the project’s parent company, told the commissioners during a Tuesday meeting that plans call for 33 wind turbines to be erected just west of the existing 67-turbine installation.

While the county now receives around $400,000 in annual tax revenue from the wind farm, that figure will rise to $600,000 upon completion of this new phase of the project, Duncan said.

County Commission President Betty Crookshanks read aloud a letter of support for the project that each of the commissioners signed, noting the wind farm provides “an economic boost for the county.”

With the expected additional $200,000 in taxes, Crookshanks said, “Beech Ridge (will be) one of the largest taxpayers in the county.”

She also made note of the 150 construction jobs the project will bring to Greenbrier County over a 6- to 9-month period.

Duncan explained that there are regulatory issues that must first be taken care of before construction begins.

Under the terms of a settlement agreement between Invenergy Wind LLC and wildlife groups dedicated to protecting endangered Indiana bats, the energy company was compelled to seek an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Such permits are required when a project might harm endangered or threatened wildlife.

The permit process for Beech Ridge, which was initiated in 2010, is nearing completion, according to Duncan, who told the commissioners, “We have never found any danger to bats (at the wind farm).”

He said the company expects the permit to be approved in the spring, which will allow construction of the 33 new turbines to begin in July. If that timeline pans out, the additional windmills should be operational by the end of 2013, Duncan predicted.

When questioned by Crookshanks about how the farm’s towering turbines fared in the June 29 derecho, Duncan said except for a somewhat ironic electrical outage when Appalachian Electric Power’s Nettie substation went down, the windmills weathered the storm well.

On the flip side of that coin, when Nettie was brought back on line, power produced by the turbines fed back into the substation, Duncan noted, thus providing electrical service to AEP’s customers in surrounding communities.

He said wind speeds of between 80 and 90 miles per hour were clocked on the ridge top during the storm.

In other business:

n The county commission allocated $30,000 in hotel/motel tax revenues for Friendship Park in Rupert. The money will be used to purchase playground equipment and materials for the picnic shelter at the county-owned park.

n The commissioners approved donating $8,000 in coal severance funds to Greenbrier West High School for fabrication and installation of a sign at the school’s entrance to replace the aging sign that is now in place.

Commissioner Michael McClung noted the donation of coal severance money to the Charmco school is particularly appropriate, given that the western end is the coal-producing section of the county.

n County Clerk Robin Loudermilk announced the deadline for voters to register or make any changes to their registration prior to the November general election is Oct. 16. Early voting will be conducted from Oct. 24 through Nov. 3 in the first floor courtroom of the county courthouse in Lewisburg.

Source:  By Tina Alvey, Register-Herald Reporter | www.register-herald.com 27 September 2012

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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