BY MIKE FAHER
REELS CORNERS — Thirty-five turbines are spinning at Somerset County’s newest wind farm.
Chicago-based E.ON Climate & Renewables North America on Wednesday announced that its Stony Creek wind farm is complete.
The site spans more than 4,300 acres in three townships, and it is the company’s first project in this state.
“We are proud to finally have a presence in Pennsylvania and to continue developing wind farms of all sizes across the country,” Steve Trenholm, chief executive officer.
E.ON struck lease agreements with 11 landowners to build the wind farm in Allegheny, Shade and Stonycreek townships. Most of the windmills are in Stonycreek.
The General Electric turbines can provide a total of 52.5 megawatts of electricity, enough power to supply nearly 16,000 homes. And E.ON administrators say they “recycled” a property that formerly produced energy in the form of coal from a strip mine.
That also led to some challenges, as engineers and contractors were erecting turbines on a filled-in surface mine rather than on bedrock.
Only nine of the 35 turbines were built on “traditional foundations,” said Patrick Woodson, chief development officer of E.ON Climate and Renewables North America.
“The rest were specially designed,” Woodson said. “That is what has made this project the most unique for us.”
But Woodson said sophisticated advance engineering allowed the project to run smoothly. Other factors also played a role in the completion of construction little more than four months after administrators held a kickoff ceremony on a windy hilltop.
“We were very lucky and had a lot of good weather,” Woodson said. “We were able to get parts and components on time.”
The work had a side effect, though, as Mountain Ridge ATV Park was forced to close this past season to make way for turbine construction.
But in an open letter posted on the park’s Web site, administrators say they expect to be back in operation next year.
“Our plans are to spend the fall and winter months retooling the ATV park with upgrades to the camping area, building a shower house, installing an RV dump station, fixing and upgrading existing trails and tracks and cutting new trails,” the letter says.
“We are planning on opening again in the spring – probably on Saturday, April 3rd, and then only on the weekends until Memorial Day, when we begin our summer hours.”
The Somerset County wind farm was E.ON Climate & Renewables’ fifth project completed this year in the U.S., but it was nowhere near the biggest.
The company recently finished the final phase of what it bills as the “world’s largest wind farm” in Roscoe, Texas. That site has 627 turbines with a power-producing capacity of 781.5 megawatts.