GADSDEN, Alabama – The developers of two wind farm projects in Etowah and Cherokee counties say the company has finished acquiring the land leasing agreements necessary for work to go forward.
Patrick Buckley, development manager with Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy, said both projects will be operating solely on private land.
“I think we’ve got a good handle on things and can get construction started by the end of the year,” Buckley said. “We’ve made tremendous progress on both sides of the project.”
Pioneer Green is planning on building up to 40 wind mill turbines along a ridge in northern Etowah County. The company also plans on building eight turbines in neighboring Cherokee County. The turbines would be between 267 to 330 feet tall, have three blades and be spread about 1/4 to 1/5th of a mile apart.
The Etowah County Commission said earlier this year that it would take no position for or against the project. The entire two-county project will cost an estimated $200 million and generate about 100 megawatts of power.
Company officials said earlier this year that they wanted to begin construction later this year to take advantage of federal tax breaks. The company has spent the last few months moving ahead with the projects while trying to gather public support. Pioneer Green hosted two open houses in April in Gadsden and Centre in order to answer residents’ questions. A group, Save Cherokee Rock Village, gathered opposition in Cherokee County against the project using social media.
At its Facebook page, a post shared from the “No Wind Alabama” page urged people to contact the Cherokee County Commission. “A wind turbine farm in Alabama is about to become a reality unless the people speak up,” it reads.
Buckley, who is in Gadsden this week, said the two projects are progressing at different levels. With Cherokee County, the company is working on environmental assessments of the project and is in the later stages of pre-construction work.
Etowah County is still looking for a power agent to receive the electricity the turbines will create. Pioneer Green plans on working with the Tennessee Valley Authority on the Cherokee County project.
“We have some different options we’re pursuing for the Etowah County portion,” he said.
The Etowah County component also needs some right-of-way agreements.