Construction of Lake County’s first two wind turbines is two months behind schedule, but developer Juhl Energy said it is still committed to completing its $10 million project.
The company originally had planned to start construction in September or October on the nursery land it has leased east of Antioch Road in North Perry Village, according to a PowerPoint document distributed at North Perry’s Planning Commission meeting in May.
According to that same document, the 426-foot turbines were slated to begin producing electricity by the end of 2013. That electricity would be sold to the city of Painesville’s Electric Division.
“The pool of potential financial investors for a project of this size is fairly small,” said Corey Juhl, vice president of project development at the Minnesota-based company. “We have not yet been able to secure the appropriate level of financing for the project, which would allow (us) to start construction before the end of the year.”
Juhl stressed that the company is still “committed” to completing the project, but added that no timeline is ready of when construction might start.
Over the past handful of months, North Perry Mayor Ed Klco has been answering questions about the project’s progress and whether the developer is still on board to complete it.
“I am optimistic, but I am a little let down,” Klco said by phone Friday. “I was expecting to see a little bit of construction by now.”
Another concern that’s been expressed at council meetings is whether Juhl Energy will still qualify for its federal tax credits if construction is held past the Dec. 31 deadline.
Juhl said the project still qualifies for the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit because the company has spent 5 percent or more of the project’s budget before the due date. He said he is “unable to disclose” just where that money was spent “at this time.”
The federal tax credit, if eligible, would credit 30 percent of the project’s expenses and give credits for kilowatts produced.
Jeffrey McHugh, Painesville’s electric power superintendent, said the city can fill its power portfolio fine while waiting for the turbines to be built.
McHugh said the two 1.7 megawatt turbines make up only 10 percent of the megawatts his division needs each day. Those customers include all of the city of Painesville, and portions of Painesville Township, Perry Village, Perry Township and North Perry.
Klco said 95 percent of his village’s residents are customers of Painesville’s electric division.
Once the two wind turbines are finished, those customers will see their electric bills drop to in-city rates of $0.0572 per kilowatt per hour from $0.0692 per kilowatt per hour, according to Painesville, contract on the project.
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