First wind turbine erected at Armenia

The first wind turbine has been erected as part of the multi-million dollar AES wind turbine project in Armenia Township, Bradford County, and Tioga County. Wiring and mechanical remains to be done on the towering structure.

Jim Coley, site civil manager with RES, the general contractor for the project, said the wind turbine erection was completed on Saturday. Foundation work on the remaining turbines is 95 percent done.

The roads, which are identified by letters of the alphabet, have several wind turbine sites along them. Road "L" has seven. Currently, the blades and tower sections are waiting to be assembled, with some base parts of the towers up.

The blades, Coley said, each weigh 13,889 pounds while the nacelles, or machine heads, which contain a generator, gear reduction equipment, and motors, each weigh 127,000 pounds. The turbines are 250 feet tall from the ground to the center of the hub, and then another 124 feet to the top. The blades are 121.4 feet long.

Despite the size of the blades, Coley said, "it doesn’t take much to turn one of these things." He compared the turbines to "a ship with all its sails up."

Coley said it takes about a month to erect a turbine.

When up and running, the electricity generated by the turbines will go through an underground collection system and to a substation, which is currently being built off Swamp Road. It then will go to a switchyard in Troy Township in the area of Bohlayer’s and on to transmission lines to be distributed.

Coley noted there have been "a lot of local people" involved in the project. Citing some examples, he noted that gravel from Cross Quarry has been used and Pequignot Logging has cleared trees.

He believes the wind turbine project is bringing some positive changes to Armenia Mountain.

In addition to the "green" energy that will be produced and the inclusion of local people, he said improvements have been made to roads, such as Swamp Road. The roads, he said, have been "beefed up" and widened to accommodate the heavy equipment traveling over them.

Swamp Road, he said, was more like a trail before work was done to it. He noted that it was widened and gravel was put down, which he said was an improvement.

Safety is also a big concern on the project, he said.

Each week, a safety meeting is held attended by everyone working on the site. The wind turbine traffic is advised to drive slowly.

Only one accident on-site has happened so far, Coley said, but it wasn’t life-threatening. A worker had a broken thumb. He wasn’t certain as to the specifics of the incident.

Those from out of the area working on the project, he said, are eating in local restaurants and have attended such events as the Troy Fair. They are staying in hotels and renting houses.

State issues permits for Armenia Mountain wind farm project

The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued two permits to AES Armenia Mountain Wind LLC for the construction of 125 wind turbines in Bradford and Tioga counties, but according to Tioga Preservation Group member Judi Piccolella, the appeal the group filed earlier this year against a December planning commission decision to conditionally approve the project is still tied up in the Tioga County court system.

AES, based in Arlington, Va., plans to construct 52 turbines in Armenia Township, Bradford County, and 73 in Richmond, Sullivan and Ward townships, Tioga County.

The Water Obstruction and Encroachment and NPDES Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction Activities permits to AES allow the company to proceed with its plans to build wind turbines in the counties, according to Robert Yowell, north central regional director for DEP.

DEP’s Water Obstruction and Encroachment permit will require AES to comply with state regulations for 39 stream and wetland crossings that will impact 250 lineal feet of waterways and 0.75 acres of wetlands.

The NPDES Stormwater Construction Activity permit will regulate earth-moving activities for the turbine pads and 33 miles of road construction on 500 acres.

The permit requirements will ensure that sediment runoff caused by precipitation does not impact creeks, streams or residential properties.

Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed a bill in early July establishing a $650 million energy fund to support conservation and spur renewable energy development, including $25 million for wind energy and geothermal projects.

Already a major wind generator in the US, AES has the experience and global presence to lead in harnessing this renewable resource in markets around the world.

AES expanded into wind in 2004, leveraging our more than 25 years experience in originating, financing and developing power projects all over the world. Today AES Wind Generation operates more than 1,200 MW of capacity with a global workforce of more than 300 people dedicated to the wind business.

In the US, AES operate in five states: California, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and Texas. Globally, AES Wind Generation operates, acquires and develops greenfield projects, often with local partners. We have minority stakes in China through Guohua Hulunbeier and in France with InnoVent.

In 2008, AES Wind Generation brought 285 MW online in China and the US (California and Texas), and construction is underway to expand our portfolio by 410 MW through projects in Bulgaria, China, Scotland and the US by 2010.

Expanding into France and Bulgaria, AES more than doubles its wind power footprint in Europe

Entering the fast-growing wind energy markets in France and Bulgaria early, quickly and with established players, AES has more than doubled its wind development pipeline in Europe since July 2006. AES has purchased a minority interest in InnoVent SAS, a French wind farm developer with more than 600 MW of projects in development. AES has also acquired a minority stake in the 120 MW Kavarna wind project in Bulgaria, one of the largest wind projects in development in southeast Europe to date.

These acquisitions reflect AES’s twofold strategy for expanding its wind portfolio: leveraging existing presence where possible (in Bulgaria, AES is the largest foreign investor in the power sector); and partnering with established players with a deep pipeline of development projects, like InnoVent in France.

This is the same strategy AES used to enter the wind generation business originally. The purchase of SeaWest in 2004 gave AES an immediate entry into the US wind market, with experienced developers and a pipeline of projects. Today, AES has more than 1,000 MW of wind facilities in operation or under management and more than 6,000 MW of wind projects in active development worldwide.

Installed wind generation capacity in Bulgaria and France is expected to increase by more than 5,000 MW over the next five years. With the acquisitions described above, AES is well positioned to play a key role in such growth.

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global power market today and a key component of AES’s expansion into alternative energy. These transactions continue to build on AES’s strategy of becoming a leader in wind generation development and operation worldwide, leveraging our 25 years of experience developing large-scale power projects all over the world.