Wind turbines could start being constructed in Potter County this summer, and the project could reach commercial operations by the end of 2018, a company spokesman reported this week.
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued permits to Big Level Wind LLC of New Hampshire, a Walden Green Energy subsidiary, for earth disturbance/erosion and any waterway/wetland encroachment for the wind farm project that will be on about 200 acres of private lands in Hector Township near the border of Tioga County.
Plans call for a total of 26 wind turbines to be built.
“Walden Green Energy, the owner of Big Level Wind, is very pleased to launch this project in Potter County,” Big Level Wind Executive Officer John Soininen told The Era on Tuesday. “The investment, tax revenues and jobs this project will bring will be very valuable contributions to the region and the competitively priced clean energy will provide significant environmental benefits to the region for decades to come.”
What’s more, the township will receive money from the project, according to township secretary Bonnie French. The township would expect to receive an upfront tax payment of $75,000. An annual payment would also be made, based on $2,250 per megawatt generated, and the township would receive that money, minus other taxes, she told The Era previously.
The project will be about 90 megawatts, generating enough clean power for about 23,000 average Pennsylvania homes, Soininen said. The height of the wind turbines hasn’t been determined yet, but about $150 million of private capital will be put into the project, he added.
“The site for the Big Level Wind project is well suited to wind energy development because it has large tracts of land already managed for commercial timber and natural gas production,” Soininen said. “The land also already has substantial existing road infrastructure and high voltage power lines passing through the property, resulting in a very limited amount of new infrastructure that needs to be built. Importantly, this site also has willing landowners and supportive host communities.”
The company has garnered strong support from Hector Township, Harrison Township and the Potter County Planning Commission, he said.
“It’s not like it’s on anybody’s front door,” French said. The municipality has about 350 residents.
Meanwhile, the Potter County Commissioners haven’t heard much from people regarding the project, something Commissioner Paul Heimel finds unsurprising, considering the county government has little involvement or jurisdiction.
“The plan was brought before the Potter County Planning Commission for review and comments, but the township governments have the ultimate say,” Heimel said. “The Planning Commission did have some concerns about potential impact on Cherry Springs State Park Gold-Level International Dark Sky Park.”
This isn’t Potter County’s first foray into wind turbines. Several years ago, the construction of wind turbines in nearby Ulysses Township had been in the works, with some towers to be placed in Hector Township. But the idea didn’t happen.
“We’re just waiting to see what they’re (Big Level Wind) going to do and when they going to it,” French said.
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