Pennsylvania Powers Up New Wind Farm

Pennsylvania Powers Up New Wind Farm

The wind is blowing wealth and power across Pennsylvania. Representatives of a consortium of private companies, nonprofit organizations and public agencies have confirmed plans to build a new 15-megawatt wind farm in Fayette County.

The Mill Run Wind Project will create enough clean energy to power about 5,700 homes.

The wind farm will be built along more than a mile of ridge-top pastureland, ranging in elevation from 2,700 to 2,900 feet. It will be located near Mill Run in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The project is being built by Mill Run Windpower, a joint venture between Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation, a local wind energy developer and Zilkha Renewable Energy, a Texas-based developer, builder, owner and operator of wind-power plants worldwide.

Wind energy is the world's fastest growing form of electricity generation, meeting an increasing demand for clean renewable energy. The alternative energy sources is growing fast in Pennsylvania, where the electricty industry is deregulated and consumers can choose their own provider.

Once built, the Mill Run Wind Project will be the largest wind farm in the state. Today that distinction is enjoyed by the Green Mountain Energy wind farm, which opened last year on private farmland in Garrett, Pennsylvania. The land on which the turbines sit was previously strip-mined for coal.

The Green Mountain project is producing more than 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, enough to supply the annual requirements of about 2,500 Pennsylvania homes.

Groundbreaking for the Mill Run wind farm will take place later this spring. The power plant will consist of 10 new 1.5-megawatt turbines supplied by California-based Enron Wind Corporation.

Wind turbines generate electricity without emissions or fuel. In addition to the environmental benefits, wind generation offers stable 20-year prices because it is not subject to fuel-supply fluctuations.

Exelon Power Team, the wholesale power marketing division of Exelon Generation, has agreed to buy the output of the Mill Run wind farm for 20 years and will manage wholesale delivery of the energy to the power grid for resale.

With that agreement in place, Community Energy, a green electricity marketing company headquartered in Wayne, Pennsylvania, will sell the power to commercial and residential customers at lower prices than could be charged without a long-term commitment.

The project is supported by wind energy production incentive financing from the TRF Sustainable Development Fund administered by The Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia.

The Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition, through its Pennsylvania Wind Campaign, is providing education to the public about Pennsylvania's renewable energy choices.

"The wind farm will bring vitally needed jobs and tax revenue to a rural area, and at the same time deliver clean, affordable, homegrown energy to Pennsylvanians who choose it," said Pennsylvania Secretary of Environmental Protection James Seif.

Sam Enfield, vice president of development for Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation and manager of the Mill Run project, notes that owners of the land where the wind turbines will be sited will be paid royalties on the power produced, an additional source of income from their land.

"We are also pleased to be able to provide clean and economical energy to Exelon Power Team during these times of national energy supply concerns," said Enfield.

The costs of wind power are dropping, according to the American Wind Energy Association, an industry group. "Our nation’s abundant winds can provide a low-cost, clean energy solution to the current energy crisis," said executive director Randall Swisher. "Wind energy can help power American homes and businesses while providing a buffer against spikes in the price of natural gas and other fuels used to produce electricity in conventional power plants."

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