VAN WERT – The Prairie Creek Wind Farm is still on track for construction in the southern portion of Van Wert County, according to BP Wind Project Developer Roger Brown. On Thursday, Brown met with the Van Wert County Commissioners to give a few follow-up answers from last month’s meeting.
Brown also introduced Jason McDonald who will be taking over as project developer this summer after Brown’s retirement.
The update touched on many topics, but little new information was brought out. BP Wind is still working toward applying with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), probably in early September. The licensing process will probably take up to nine months to complete, putting a possible construction date in the spring of 2014. That date is only possible if things run smoothly between now and then.
That date pushes the project out of the timeline required to qualify for the Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) program as outlined in Senate Bill 232. Brown is hoping that the county will work with the developer in a similar fashion as laid out in that program.
“I’m assuming we can still talk about that, with or without legislation,” said Brown. “If you are ok with what was mandated in that, my understanding is that we need to have that discussion when we know where the turbines are placed.”
The Van Wert County Commissioners canceled the county-wide Alternative Energy Zone designation last month. That decision means that any agreement between the wind farm developer and the county will not be restricted by the boundaries of Senate Bill 232 as the Blue Creek Wind Farm project was dictated a few years ago. The announcement also gives the county more negotiating power in matters of road agreements and drainage as well as enables more involvement by township trustees and representatives of local school districts.
There is still much to be decided about the Prairie Creek Wind Farm. While it is still expected to be a 200 megawatt capacity project, the company is still trying to decide on the turbine model to use. Brown and McDonald both indicated that technology is advancing quickly from turbine manufacturers and the company wants to use the most practical and efficient for the project. If a 3.0 MW turbine is chosen, that would translate to about 66 turbine sites. By comparison, a 2.5 MW unit would equal 88 turbines.
There was also discussion at Thursday’s meeting regarding the possible sale of BP Wind and its projects. Brown and McDonald readily admitted that BP Wind was for sale because the parent company wants to scale back to its original industry only – petroleum. But they stressed that no matter the future ownership of the wind farm, they are continuing to work toward the completion of the Prairie Creek Wind Farm since the closer to complete a project is, the more lucrative it will be to a potential buyer. So, the developers say nothing will change before any sale is made, and it is likely that even if another company purchases BP’s wind holdings, very little will change, most likely including the staff working on the project.
Work is continuing on the energy transmission portion of the project. That portion takes the power from the generation point to connect with the electric grid, most likely near Lima. Brown noted that the wind farm itself and the transmission project will each require separate approval by the OPSB, but that the applications will be filed at the same time.
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