Construction of the Blue Creek Wind Farm, the first large-scale wind farm in Ohio, has been completed, according to the Spanish renewable energy company Iberdrola. This is one of the bigger wind power plants east of the Mississippi River, with 152 2-megawatt (MW) Gamesa G90 turbines combining to give it a generating capacity of 304 MW. FirstEnergy Solutions has already agreed to buy 100 MW of the plant’s power over the next 20 years.
Iberdrola is headquartered in Spain, but runs its Iberdrola Renewables office in the U.S. out of Portland, Ore. Like the rest of the wind industry, it is proceeding cautiously in the United States with the production tax credit—an important factor in making wind profitable—due to expire at the end of this year. The company laid off 50 U.S. employees in January and told North American Windpower that it would suspend new construction on wind farms if Congress doesn’t extend the PTC.
Projects that go into service before the end of the year will qualify for the 2.2 cents/kilowatt-hour credit, however, and Iberdrola is now developing a 189 MW wind farm, the Manzana Wind Power Project, in the windy Tehachapi region located near the town of Rosamond, in Kern County, Calif. The company has already secured two power purchase agreements for that farm, including a 100 MW, 20-year contract with the San Diego Gas & Electric company and a 50 MW, 20-year contract with the city of Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Power.
Construction for Blue Creek Wind Farm began in September 2010, and brings with it approximately $1.1 million in annual lease payments to local landowners, $2.7 million in annual local taxes, 15 to 20 new permanent jobs, over 300 construction jobs, and local purchase of some supplies and construction materials.
Blue Creek is so large that it is located in six townships in Van Wert and Paulding counties. And with each of its 152 turbines standing over 100 meters high, the farm will definitely draw attention. For Ohio, where budget woes have forced painful cuts, the Blue Creek Wind Farm, which is projected to bring in nearly $3 million in local tax revenue, may be a real life saver. And not only in terms of finances.
Ohio overwhelmingly relies on coal for baseload power. And while Blue Creek’s output isn’t enough to fuel any of the state’s major cities, any addition of sustainable energy comes as a welcome offset to Ohio and could also have far reaching impacts on neighboring states.
Iberdrola had been working quickly to build its wind capacity in the U.S. The company installed 732 MW and now boasts a total installed capacity of over 5,200 MW in 18 states. That is more than a third of the company’s total global capacity of 13,690 MW at the end of 2011.