Gov. Edward Rendell, Energy Leaders and Somerset County Families Celebrate New Wind Farm Rising Above Former Coal Mine
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October 16, 2008
GARRETT, Pa. - In a public-private partnership that highlights Pennsylvania's history and evolution of energy production, a former coal mine has transformed into a wind power project that generates enough clean, renewable wind energy to sustain 10,000 homes.
Pennsylvania's Gov. Edward Rendell, local elected officials and energy leaders joined the Somerset County community today to officially open the Casselman Wind Power Project near Garrett, Pa.
Eight of Casselman's 23 turbines sit above the old mine. Altogether, the turbines produce 34.5 megawatts (MW). FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. has a 23-year agreement to purchase Casselman's output.
"Pennsylvania is rapidly becoming a leader among states that are developing renewable and alternative energy sources and implementing advanced energy efficiency and conservation technologies," said Governor Edward G. Rendell. "Companies like Iberdrola Renewables are moving the commonwealth forward by creating jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, improving our environment and strengthening our national security. The Casselman project is a prime example of the growth we have been able to achieve through smart energy policies and our commitment to developing an advanced energy economy."
The project was supported by a $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority to offset the increased foundation costs for the wind turbines.
Ultimately, the power generated at Casselman will be delivered to customers of FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.
"Purchasing the renewable power generated at Casselman is part of FirstEnergy's commitment to protecting the environment while meeting our customers' needs for reliable and affordable electricity," said Gary Leidich, executive vice president, FirstEnergy, and president, FirstEnergy Generation.
Creative land use is not the only innovation at Casselman. Project developer Iberdrola Renewables is hosting a groundbreaking wildlife study on the interaction between bats and wind turbines. From late July to mid-September, Iberdrola Renewables, working with independent scientists from Bat Conservation International, conducted a controlled experiment in which selected wind turbines were stopped during certain wind conditions. This represents the first U.S.-based effort to study the effects of shutting down turbines on reducing bat deaths.
"For the re-use of the coal mine and the wildlife study, we are proud of the industry efforts represented at the Casselman Wind Power Project," said Don Furman, senior vice president for Development, Transmission, and Policy, Iberdrola Renewables. "We are committed to setting a high standard in the industry for conserving land and protecting wildlife."
The partnership with independent scientists was particularly important for the study at Casselman.
"Together, the industry, agencies, conservation groups and scientists can find solutions that will protect wildlife. Iberdrola Renewables deserves considerable credit for hosting and supporting this critical experiment," said Ed Arnett, Ph.D., conservation scientist, Bat Conservation International.
"Alternative energy will continue to play a vital and growing role in the energy policy of the United States," said Somerset County Commissioner Jim Marker. "Somerset County continues to be a major component of the wind industry in Pennsylvania, and we are proud to welcome the Casselman project to our community."
"The prospect of a wind power project was a new experience for this community when it was first proposed, but the long legacy of energy production in this area and in our family was immediately appealing. The entire project team from Iberdrola Renewables, from development to construction, quickly erased any skepticism with their knowledge, professionalism and responsiveness," said Judy Pletcher, who is a landowner at Casselman. "The project has fit in real well here and has meant a lot for this community."
Iberdrola Renewables is currently the world's leading provider of wind power with 8,500 MW of wind power in operation globally now. Iberdrola Renewables plans to install 1,000 MW of wind power each year in the U.S. www.iberdrolarenewables.us.