Community Wind Progress in Montana and West Virgina
Windustry's Landowner Wind Energy Association (LWEA) Resource Center has reached milestones working with two communities in West Virginia and Montana, providing on-the-ground technical assistance, support and analysis needed to establish a successful community wind energy business.
Windustry has been working with each of these communities to assess pre-development and feasibility strategies, develop suitable business/ownership models, address essential wind resource assessment needs, and provide professional legal, technical and financial assessment of project development.
Sand Creek Winds, Montana
Several milestones have been achieved in the Sand Creek Winds project in eastern Montana. A 60-meter meteorological test tower (used to measure wind capacity) has been erected on the identified site. Data collected so far indicates a very favorable wind resource, confirming the results of an earlier desktop study conducted by Windustry.
Meteorological tower rising
over Sand Creek Winds site
Another milestone was achieved in October with a two-day habitat survey of the Sand Creek Winds site by a biologist looking at the likely turbine locations. The result of this work was favorable for the project, indicating that a wind farm would have little negative impact on wildlife in the area. Other progress has included attracting additional landowners to the LLC, continued work on the LLC's operating and lease agreements, continued data collection from the met tower, and beginning to study how to lay out roads for the project.
Windustry has also helped the landowners involved establish The Sand Creek Winds, LLC as the landowner wind energy association for this project. There are 12 owner-members involved in the LLC. In addition, some members of the community who have learned about the project have expressed interest in investing in it.
Wolf Creek Mountain, West Virginia
Two major milesones have been achieved in West Virginia for a site on Wolf Creek Mountain, near the town of Alderson. The first is the securing of the land for a met tower. Because some of this land was under contested ownership, the project at this location was very nearly dropped completely. At the 11th hour, John Sams, the local champion for the project, negotiated an arrangement that would clear up the ownership issue to allow the project to move ahead.
Wolf Creek Mountain landowner
The second major milestone is the installation of a meteorological test tower on Wolf Creek Mountain, which was just completed, November 5. NRG Systems is donating the met tower to collect wind data on Wolf Creek Mountain. If the mountain acreage, combined with land from adjoining neighbors, proves to have sufficient wind, it could support between two and eight wind turbines.
"The wind farm will be a great boost for Alderson, a chance to bring in more jobs and more sightseers," says landowner John Sams in the article "Harvesting the Winds over Wolf Creek" by Ann Jones-Weinstock, Director of Community Initiatives at NRG Systems. "From just outside of town, you'll be able to look a mile away and see the turbines working. The name - community wind - that says it all. This kind of project can unite us."
Successful Business Models
Both projects will become case studies that can be used as examples of how a successful community wind project works. The business models developed through these projects can be used to educate elected officials about necessary policy and regulatory changes that would make such projects more feasible. The models also serve as templates for others who wish to develop and own wind energy.