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Local wind projects will combine

Hale County’s four Tri-Global wind energy projects are being combined into a single project, making it the world’s largest community-owned wind farm.

Curtis King, Tri-Global’s senior vice president for shareholder relations, said a pair of meetings for affected property owners has been scheduled later this month.

The first meeting will run from 7-9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, at the Ollie Liner Center in Plainview. A second session is set for 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, in the Abernathy City Hall.

“We’ve started the formation of the Hale Community Energy LLC, which will be the negotiating arm for the four big Hale County winds farms – East Mound, Lakeview, Cotton Wood and Hale County,” he explained. “The newly combined project area stretches roughly from Petersburg across to Abernathy, up to Plainview and across to the Floyd County line.

“This joint venture will save about $5 million in future development costs while reducing the political risk tremendously as well as the tax liabilities, since it will be one contiguous wind farm with common ownership.”

Once the wind farm is fully developed, it will likely produce in excess of 1,000 megawatts and cover approximately 123,000 acres.

“Roscoe’s wind farm has about 673 turbines,” King said, “and we plan to have a number in excess of that.”

By having a joint project combining all four areas, King explained that if initial construction begins during 2014 as planned, the entire project will qualify for any tax credits and federal incentives then in place.

“We’re hoping to get into this window since, once construction starts, it all qualifies,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to have all four projects as being contiguous and under common ownership.”

The two meetings are to update landowners and investors on what’s going on and to announce the joint venture.

“The actual construction of the wind turbines will bring a lot of temporary jobs into the area,” King said. “And once we get the wind farm up and running, there will be at least 100 permanent jobs. This will be high-paying jobs. It’s not something that will be around for just 10 years – wind farms will be a permanent fixture that will go on for several generations.”

With the current construction of multiple transmission lines through the area, King said power generated in this area will eventually be fed into two different power grids.

“Those urban areas are hungry for power, and the infrastructure for that pipeline to carry power to them is being put into place,” he said.

“Everything is playing right into our hand right now,” he said. “All we need now is a little time and money.”