CLEARFIELD — The Clearfield County Planning Commission approved a three-lot subdivision in Chest Township for the placement of three wind turbines at its meeting last week.
Competitive Power Ventures of Braintree, Mass. and Silver Springs, Md. is planning to install 18 or 19 wind turbines in Clearfield and Cambria counties at a total project cost of roughly $200 million. The bulk of the project will be in Cambria County with up to three wind turbines and a substation being located in Clearfield County, according to John Hafner of CPV.
Hafner said the turbines will look similar to other wind turbines in the area except the new ones will be larger. The new wind turbines will be roughly 650 feet tall with rotars approximately 162 meters (531.5 feet) across.
Construction is expected to start early next year and take about 14 months to complete. He said the project would create about 100 construction jobs and there would be a half a dozen full-time maintenance staff employed on the site for the life of the facility, Hafner said.
Parts for the wind turbines will be built all over the world and would be transported to the site. He said they are still working out the details of how to get all the parts to the site because many of the parts are large and heavy. For example, the rotor blades are 81 meters (265 feet) long, Hafner said.
“It is an interesting challenge,” Hafner said.
He said they will be state-of-the-art wind turbines capable of producing up to six megawatts of power per day. The entire facility is expected to generate roughly 300,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually, which is enough to provide about 20,000 homes with power.
Hafner said turbine technology has improved significantly in recent years. He said 10-15 years ago wind turbines could produce up to 1.5 megawatts of power per hour. Three or four years ago about four megawatts per hour. Now they are up to five or six megawatts per day.
“The turbine technology continues to evolve. As the turbines are able to be built taller and have longer blades, they are able to extract more energy from the air and support larger generators,” he said.
When asked if the wind turbines would have any adverse affects on local bat and bird populations, Hafner said the company has spent a lot of time studying this and in working with the state Game Commission and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The company has agreed to implement measures to protect birds and bats such as curtailing the turbines at night during times of low wind speed.
He said the science has shown that bats tend to be out at night during times of low wind speeds and CPV will make it so the wind turbines won’t start spinning at night until the wind is strong enough that bats won’t be out flying around.
He said this measure will protect both bats and bird species.
The company will be improving existing roads and building a few new roads for the turbines. He said the access roads will all be gravel roads and people in the Rock Run Recreation Area will be able to ride up to the turbines.
The total tract of land is 5,852 acres and the planning commission made its approval contingent on the company receiving approval for its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit. Hafner said the NPDES permit is currently under review by the Clearfield County and Cambria County conservation districts.
Hafner said he is pleased with the reception the project has received from local residents municipal and county officials.
“It’s been a great experience working with both Chest Township in Clearfield County and Chest Township in Cambria County, and getting to know the communities,” Hafner said.