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Two RC. wind farms up and running

The Power County Press of American Falls, Idaho

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Both wind farms in Power County are complete and creating energy, said Power County Building Administrator Bob Steinlicht. Construction, which started in early spring and went until late 2011, went exceptionally well, he said.

Jay Williams, a land control specialist with Ridgeline Energy, agreed.

"Construction was completed on schedule without a single losttime accident," Williams said.

Ridgeline's project, the 44-turbine Rockland Wind Farm to the southwest of American Falls, started construction March of 2011 when they started building roads and excavating the area for the turbines. The wind farm went on-line in late 2011.

The other wind farm southeast of American Falls, the Power County Wind Farm, is owned by Crompton Greaves' CG Power Solutions. Its 18 turbines were expected to be running before the end of the year, said Moshe Bounder, CG Power Solutions general counsel.

Vestas, who built the towers for the Rockland Wind Farm, will be in charge of maintenance as part of their 10-year service contract. Ridgeline will be assisted by enXco, a company that will oversee the wind farm operations and perform maintenance on the company's facilities. Ten employees will work at the wind farm. Two of those employees were hired locally, Williams said.

Ridgeline has considered selling part of the facility it currently holds, but expects to be the longterm owner of the wind farm. Ridgeline and Vestas look to being an active part of the community, Williams said. After the Vestas contract is up, Ridgeline will decide who will be responsible for maintenance.

Ridgeline's wind farms took 170,000 labor hours to build in about nine months. A little more than a third of the labor came from local hires.

"Thanks to the remarkable support from Power County officials, local residents, local businesses and land owners, Rockland Wind Farm is a success story for the entire community," Williams said. "All of us at Ridgeline Energy thank everyone for their support and look forward to being a positive contributor to American Falls and the surrounding areas for many years to come."

To keep trade secrets safe, Bounder would not say what future CG Power Solutions would have in the area. Nordex, who built the wind towers, also has a maintenance agreement for the CG Power Solutions wind farm, according to the Nordex press release.

There are no additional wind farms planned for Power County, Steinlicht said, although the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have talked about putting one on tribal land. It's currently difficult to get a power purchase agreement for wind farms, he said, and that agreement must be in place before the farms can build.

The current wind farms could expand, Steinlicht said. Both wind farms built fewer towers than they were originally permitted to build; however, an expansion would require additional wildlife monitoring before it becomes a possibility, he said. Both projects are now involved in studies to show the wind farms are functioning without harmful effects, he said.

Opinions he's heard on the wind farms have been mixed, Steinlicht said. While some don't like the placement of the towers, others accept them. Either way, the American Falls landscape has been changed forever, Steinlicht said.

Copyright 2012 The Power County Press, American Falls, Idaho. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 4, 2012

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