Right before the New Year, two new Pennsylvania wind farms became operational, including the state’s second largest. The Twin Ridges Wind Farm in southern Somerset County is a 140 megawatt facility, which can create enough electricity to power more than 45,000 homes each year.
“In total we had about 170 megawatts come online in the last week, bringing Pennsylvania’s EverPower portfolio to just over 200 megawatts and pushed us over 500 megawatts nationally,” said EverPower Wind Holdings Spokesman Dan Lagiovane.
The othern new wind famr is the 30-megawatt Patton Wind Project in Cambria County, also owned by EverPower. The growing wind energy sector provides an option for consumers in and out of Pennsylvania. Lagiovane said it also provides economic viability, because the electricity can be exported out of state resulting in jobs and revenue.
“Wind farms locally provide money to local land owner and townships, and districts, and the county. A lot of these areas have been hard-hit in the last three to five years with the economy. Now you have major projects coming in leaving tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in local communities. So it provides jobs, economic development, and new sources of revenue,” he said.
The Twin Ridges Wind Farm is located in Southampton, Northampton, Larimer and Greenville townships. It’s made up of 68 wind turbine generators over seven ridges. EverPower has projects in New York and California and future projects in development in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But, the future of the wind industry was pretty uncertain until very recently. The extension of the renewable energy Production Tax Credit was applauded by EverPower. Included in the “fiscal cliff” deal, the PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents for every 1,000 watts of wind energy produced. Some had wanted to let the tax credit expire at the end of the year. Opponents of its extension said wind energy simply isn’t a viable competitor of coal and natural gas.
“Well, if you take away all the subsidies coal and natural gas have gotten, it is extremely competitive,” said Lagiovane, “in fact it’s still competitive even without taking away what coal and natural gas and oil and all those have had. We believe in order to have a really sustained energy policy for our state, it should be all of the above.”
Industry leaders, lawmakers, and environmental groups all fought loudly for the extension of the wind energy tax credit. PennFuture President and CEO George Jugovic said the extension is good news, but not the best news.
“If would have been wonderful if Congress had actually provided some stability for investors, rather than doing a one year fix. But it’s better than not being extended,” he said.
The continuance of the wind energy tax credit is expected to save some 37,000 wind energy jobs, and allow wind companies to continue to expand. Wind currently provides between 2 and 3 percent of the nation’s power.