ELLENBURG — Marble River Wind Farm won't be blown off course by the sale of Horizon Wind Energy to a renewable-energy giant based in Portugal.On the contrary, said Horizon Development Director Patrick Doyle, "in many ways, we'll have greater resources to dedicate to these projects."
Horizon, in a 50/50 partnership with AES-Acciona NY Windpower, plans to erect a total 109 wind turbines in the Marble River project, located in the towns of Clinton and Ellenburg."We're definitely continuing with Marble River as planned," Doyle said following this week's announcement of the pending $2.2 billion sale of Horizon to Energias de Portugal (EDP).The Goldman Sachs Group, which had acquired Horizon about two years ago, put the company up for sale in early December 2006."The acquisition of Horizon is a natural fit with EDP's strategy, as it ... enhances EDP's global leadership in renewable generation (and) provides entry into the high-growth U.S. market with a leading position," says a press release on Energias de Portugal's Web site.
The company, said Doyle, is among the top 10 wind-plant utilities worldwide, six of which are European."These companies have been extremely successful at getting wind generation built in Europe."Along with "quite a large base of wind energy in Spain and France, EDP has quite a large position in Brazil — they have some experience working overseas," Doyle continued.Energias, which owns 559 gross megawatts of operating wind projects and has 997 megawatts under construction, describes Horizon as "one of the most successful wind developers in the United States."Horizon, producing a total 559 megawatts at wind farms in five states and Costa Rica, plans to generate 218 megawatts at Marble River.
The company is also pursuing a project dubbed Jericho Ridge in the Franklin County towns of Chateaugay, Burke and Bellmont.That project, which Horizon acquired from PPM Energy — its partner in the Maple Ridge farm on Tug Hill — would have about 60 turbines.PPM had begun collecting data from three measuring towers about two years earlier, and a system reliability study on the project has won approval from New York Independent System Operator, Doyle said.About half the turbines would stand in the southwest corner of Chateaugay, with the other half shared between the southeast corner of Burke and in northern Bellmont. Horizon has about 6,500 acres of land under option, Doyle said."We have seen tremendous interest among the landowners in having wind turbines on their land" in Franklin County, he said.
Jericho Ridge is at least a year behind that of Marble River, Doyle said, and construction would begin in 2009 at the earliest.Soon to come will be a meeting on an escrow agreement that would set aside Horizon money for the towns to hire consultants to study the wind-farm application."We will do this the way the towns want us to do it," Doyle said.Bellmont and Chateaugay have adopted wind-energy laws similar to those Horizon has dealt with in Clinton and Ellenburg, but Burke has yet to pass legislation on the issue."We've copied them on our applications, but as they don't have a law, they can't act right now," Doyle said.In the future is the State Environmental Quality Review process and pursuit of numerous agency approvals."We want to make sure we're focused on Marble River, because that one's coming up first," Doyle said.
Various permits are still needed for the Marble River project, including one for wetlands that Doyle said will see application within the next month or so.Horizon is also submitting a supplemental environmental impact statement concerning an overhead line of about eight or nine miles in length, designed to connect a group of about 65 turbines near the main transmission line and another of 44 turbines to the northeast."As we surveyed, we concluded it made more sense to have an overhead line through that wet, wooded area rather than an underground line," Doyle said.The overall process remains on track, he said, and construction is estimated for May 2008.Pending regulatory approvals, the sale of Horizon to Energias de Portugal is expected to close this June."We expect that EDP's operational experience will be a tremendous asset to Horizon," Doyle said, "while at the same time, Horizon's entrepreneurial experience will benefit EDP."