Pioneer Green Energy is planning to build two wind-energy sites on Lookout Mountain, according to a spokesman for the company during a presentation after the Etowah County Commission met.
“We’re focusing here in Alabama,” Development Manager Patrick Buckley said. “We’re looking at a fairly sizable project in terms of power produced.”
Buckley said they will be the first wind farms to be built in Alabama. The company hopes to begin construction near the end of 2013 and hopes to be operational in 2014. The company still is researching how building the windmills will affect wildlife and nearby residents.
He said the project could generate as much as $1.14 million in tax revenue and $2.3 million to $3.7 million in economic activity. The Etowah County site could generate enough power for 24,000 homes and cost up to $120 million for construction.
Despite these benefits, many residents who live in the area attended the meeting to see what was going on in their neighborhood. They were concerned about factors such as noise and how building large windmills would affect the scenery.
“I didn’t buy that property to look out at turbines,” one resident said.
Buckley said the wind farms would be 2,000 feet away from the nearest residence and the windmills would only be as loud as a refrigerator at that distance. Noise, however, was not the chief concern of the residents.
The windmills will be 267 feet to 330 feet tall. They will have to be marked by red lights to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Although only one in three turbines must have the required light, one local resident remembered when the first cell towers were put around there. She said the “strobe light is horrible across the valley.”
While many residents voiced concerns throughout the meeting, many of them were much happier when they learned the site is much further away than they originally thought. Many of them live on Bellevue Drive, which is about 7 miles away.
The wind farm sites will be in Etowah and Cherokee counties, with the Etowah site being much larger. It will begin near Ottwell Road and will go northeast and consist of 25 to 40 turbines, spaced about a quarter mile apart.
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