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PSC considers Ward County wind project

Less than a week after denying a state permit for a major wind farm in Burke County, the state Public Service Commission held a public hearing on a different wind farm.
This time, an Alabama company is seeking permission to build in extreme southeast Ward County.
Jim Olson reports.

Ruso Wind Partners – owned by Southern Power of Alabama – originally planned to speread 53 wind turbines over a 36,000 acre area between Benedict and Ruso. They amended that plan some months back, reducing the total sixe to 16,000 acres and 47 turbines. PSC Chairman Brian Kroshus wanted to know why, even with the scaled back plan, the wind farm would cover so much territory.

(Morgan Berry, Ruso Wind Partners) “Part of the reason we’re spreading out is we’re avoiding impacting areas that we need to avoid.”

Morgan Berry testified first in the hearing- laying out his company’s plans for the quarter-billion dollar project. He said close to 200 skilled workers would be hired to do the construction over about one year. And he said the company would continue to adjust the project based on any valid concerns. Although one potential problem remains unresolved. The Air Force sent a letter just this month warning of…

(Zachary Pelham, PSC Attorney) “”Adverse impacts on helicopter flight missions, missile launch operations, and weather radar NexRad operations conducted by the US Air Force.”

Berry said the Air Force had offered no major concerns up to now – and his company is trying to figure out what might need to be done.

(Morgan Berry, Southern Power Developer) “We are pushing hard to get them to get us information.”

Berry said the townships, counties, and landowners involved have been big backers, some writing letters.

(Morgan Berry, Southern Power Developer) “Those letters express support for the project due to economic benefits, jobs, and lease payments and income diversification for landowners.”

But not everyone at Monday’s hearing was positive. Marie and Dennis Pozarnsky of Benedict say wind power in general is a model of political correctness.

(Dennis Pozarnsky, Benedict Area Farmer) “They’re not economically feasable without subsidies. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense.”

The PSC is expected to rule on the Ruso Wind Partners project within a couple of months. Jim Olson, KX News.

If approved, the Ruso project should be on line by the end of next year.