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Mineral advisory panel tours Pa. wind farm site

The Lookout wind project in Somerset County is five turbines smaller than the US WindForce project proposed at Pinnacle in Mineral County, but members of the Community Advisory Panel got the opportunity to get a feel for wind farms and meet the company likely to operate the Pinnacle project. "Edison is our joint venture partner," Jim Cookman, vice president of project development for US WindForce, said during Monday's tour. "We have a joint development agreement.

BERLIN, Pa. - The Lookout wind project in Somerset County is five turbines smaller than the US WindForce project proposed at Pinnacle in Mineral County, but members of the Community Advisory Panel got the opportunity to get a feel for wind farms and meet the company likely to operate the Pinnacle project.

"Edison is our joint venture partner," Jim Cookman, vice president of project development for US WindForce, said during Monday's tour. "We have a joint development agreement. That gives them first right or refusal. We would get the permits and develop (the site) and Edison has the first right to own and operate."

Edison Mission Group, based in Irvine, Calif., operates the Lookout and Forward projects near Berlin. If US WindForce's permit applications are approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, the company could be operating the Pinnacle Project near Keyser and Elk Garden. There is also potential for Edison to be the owner and operator of the Dan's Mountain Project in Allegany County.

Cookman said not only will Edison maintain all leases with the various homeowners, but that the community benefit fund of $50,000 for Pinnacle and its $20,000 annual payments would be transferred... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BERLIN, Pa. - The Lookout wind project in Somerset County is five turbines smaller than the US WindForce project proposed at Pinnacle in Mineral County, but members of the Community Advisory Panel got the opportunity to get a feel for wind farms and meet the company likely to operate the Pinnacle project.

"Edison is our joint venture partner," Jim Cookman, vice president of project development for US WindForce, said during Monday's tour. "We have a joint development agreement. That gives them first right or refusal. We would get the permits and develop (the site) and Edison has the first right to own and operate."

Edison Mission Group, based in Irvine, Calif., operates the Lookout and Forward projects near Berlin. If US WindForce's permit applications are approved by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, the company could be operating the Pinnacle Project near Keyser and Elk Garden. There is also potential for Edison to be the owner and operator of the Dan's Mountain Project in Allegany County.

Cookman said not only will Edison maintain all leases with the various homeowners, but that the community benefit fund of $50,000 for Pinnacle and its $20,000 annual payments would be transferred from US WindForce to Edison the same as a property lease would be.

The Lookout project in Somerset County has 18 turbines, while the Pinnacle Project would have 23 with larger blades, but Doug Vance, operation and maintenance manager for the site, said the Pinnacle site would do better than Lookout.

Vance said the wind at Pinnacle has a higher rating than the Pennsylvania site and would allow for more consistent energy production.

The Pinnacle site, he added, would hopefully not see the manufacturing problems in the turbine blades that Lookout has been dealing with and has lowered operation levels to below 30 percent from the potential 35 percent.

However, those cracking blades will be replaced soon, and productivity is expected to increase as the seven turbines are put back into operation.

Patsy Koontz, advisory panel member and public relations manager for the NewPage Luke mill, said residents near the mill are concerned about six turbines that are expected to be located on mill property.

Vance and Construction Site Manager Charles Weber discussed some of the common concerns with wind projects and what has been dealt with at Lookout.

Vance said the company does its studies on wildlife - which were present as the advisory panel toured, seeing at least a dozen deer in the two-hour period. A company from Massachusetts comes in and searches for any sign of bird or bat mortality and also studies the likelihood of a scavenger animal picking up the body of a bat or bird to calculate how many birds and bats have probably been killed at the site.

The largest number of the mortalities noticed was during a foggy day when birds flew into the turbine towers, but since the turbines began operation in October, six birds and one bat have been found at the Lookout site.

They said many of their neighbors do not complain about the noise, and that one of the property owners is planning to build a cabin just a short distance from the turbines. There was one neighbor to the project, Weber said, who began complaining about noise before the turbines were ever turned on, which he said couldn't have been possible.

Another concern expressed by the public is that there is no allowance for tearing down the turbines, but Vance said a local company is drafting a plan for their removal and potential salvage value.

"People worry that they aren't going to come down, that they won't be worth anything," Weber said. "Those wires may look black on the outside, but inside, they're pure copper."

The wiring alone, Weber said, could make it worth scrapping the turbines.

Not only is a local company drafting the plan, but Vance said there are 18 employees working at the Lookout site full-time who are from the surrounding towns.


Source: http://www.times-news.com/l...

MAY 19 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20373-mineral-advisory-panel-tours-pa-wind-farm-site
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