MACOMB – More than 100 area farmers who’ve opted to lease a portion of their land were treated to dinner Tuesday and a briefing on the status of the Cardinal Point wind farm project planned for McDonough and Warren counties. The Canadian-based Capital Power owns the rights to the local project and wants farmers to sign leases optioning portions of their land for three more years.
Matt Martin from Capital’s Boston office is the project manager. “Most of the farmers have been paid for lease options for the past seven to eight years,” he said. “We think this next three-year window will determine whether the project goes forward.”
Martin said local farmers who’ve signed agreements are paid a per-acre price each month to hold land for wind farm use. He said some farmers have optioned 40-60 acres as sites for wind turbines. “We want them to stick with us,” he said, noting that Capital is the third company to purchase the planned Cardinal Point. “We’ve been around for 100 years and we want to convince people we’re in it for the long haul.”
The project manager said his company’s latest effort is the result of the 2015 renewal of federal tax credits for use of wind power energy. “A lot of projects are moving forward now that they have a four-year certainty of tax credits,” Martin said.
Anyone purchasing the tax credits through 2019 can get the credits for 10 years. Martin said Capital Power is pursuing two revenue streams, the purchase of wind energy by a power company and investment by a bank because of the tax credits. He said 2018 is the target start-up date for local wind turbine construction.
“Capital Power wants to build this project,” Martin said, “investing hundreds of millions of dollars.”
He said the next step in the process is a one-year study, beginning in September, of energy requirements in a 15-state region. He said this study would analyze what Capital intends to contribute to the transmission grid.
“We can’t go into construction until we know how we interconnect with the power grid and who is interested in buying our power,” Martin said. He added that new local environmental surveys will be required as part of the process and that Capital Power will need to sign a new franchise agreement with the McDonough County Board.
Martin said there is a project manager and a project engineer currently dedicated to Cardinal Point, with contributing staff groups. He said a construction planning team would eventually be added to the mix.
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