"I was told that they are deteriorating," Donald Decker said. "They were supposed to do maintenance weekly, but in the winter sometimes they didn't plow for a month."
That group of wind turbines, called the Green Mountain Wind Energy Center, was originally owned by National Wind Power of the United Kingdom and was operated by NextEra Energy Resources, based in Florida. A company spokesman was not available for comment Monday.
Energy from the wind farm was sold by Green Mountain Energy, based in Texas. The eight 200-foot windmills were dedicated in the fall of 2000. The 10.4-megawatt plant could produce enough electricity to serve the average needs of about 3,300 homes.
Bill Lehman, planner with the Somerset County Planning Commission, said that wind farm was built before Somerset County had a windmill ordinance, so the company did not have to report the decommissioning. At least two other wind farms in the county were also built before the ordinance, which was approved in 2004.
When the windmills were erected, the Deckers were told that they would last about 20 years.
"Well, this is close to that," he said. "I'd sooner see them stay, but there's nothing we can do about it."
Mike Petenbrink, of Garrett, photographed one of the turbines coming down.
"They torched it and cut part of it off, like dropping a tree," he said. "An excavator pulled it with a cable and they let it drop. Down it went. Everything runs its course; I remember them saying the lifespan was about 20 years."
Joseph Romesberg, of Meyersdale, remembers that he and his parents, Fred and Ruth, went to see the windmills being assembled. His father is no longer living.
"It is a bit depressing to see them come down," he said. "We were excited when they went up because they were the first in this area. It's sort of sad that they are coming down and to know how many years it has been."
NextEra also operates wind farms near Somerset, Meyersdale and Mill Run, Fayette County, where a turbine collapsed in 2014, injuring no one. There are more than 180 turbines in Somerset County, including 68 at the Twin Ridges Wind Farm in Southampton, Northampton, Larimer and Greenville townships.
Lehman said the Mason-Dixon Wind Project, in Larimer and Southampton townships, has been approved for 20 wind turbines. The project is to interconnect with the Twin Ridges substation. EverPower Wind Holdings is the developer.
More on the Mason-Dixon project from a nearby landowner:
They also talk about the 20 additional turbines that will be the Mason Dixon Project by Everpower. This is an extension to Twin Ridges in Fairhope township, mostly on Fetterolf ground on the Fairhope end. Fetterolf's are a very rich coal family who own several hundred acres adjacent to the Higdon property who live in North Carolina. The Higdon's have 3 turbines on their property. The other end of the Mason Dixon project will be in Larimar township and/or Calimont Borough.