Somerset wind power project planned

EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. said about 200 part- and full-time workers — mostly local residents — will be needed for construction. Seven to 10 full-time employees will run the wind turbines once they’re operational by late 2012.

The 150 megawatts of wind power generated will be enough to power 40,000 homes. "These people have been looking at our county for quite some time," Somerset County Commissioner Jimmy Marker said Friday. "We’re very excited to announce this project," said Harry Benson, senior director of development for EverPower.

"Twin Ridges Wind Farm will bring significant economic activity to the region," he said in a release. "It will also reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, mitigate the rising cost of electricity and decrease the emissions associated with other sources of energy."

The company hopes to break ground in late 2011 once permits are in hand. The wind farm project in Southampton, Northampton, Larimer and Greenville townships will get money moving in that area. In its release, EverPower outlined the financial benefits:

–$1 million to $2 million per year total in royalty, easement and lease payments to affected landowners.

–$5 million for construction materials including rebar, gravel, fences and concrete.

–In excess of $400,000 per year to pay the wages of the permanent workers on the site.

–More than $350,000 in annual local taxes. This includes the four townships sharing up to $240,000; the Berlin-Brothersvalley and Meyersdale Area school districts divvying up $93,000 and $37,000 to the county government.

EverPower already has a presence in Cambria County. It runs the 62.5-megawatt Highland Wind Power Project. And construction of its Highland North wind farm is to begin before the end of the year.

Vanguard Energy Partners Awarded 7.6 MW of Solar Power Projects by Somerset County Improvement Authority

Vanguard Energy Partners, a leader in the design and installation of large-scale solar electric systems, announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Somerset County Improvement Authority (SCIA) to establish 7.6 megawatts (MW) of energy-producing solar power systems at 31 local and County government locations throughout Somerset County, N.J. It is one of New Jersey’s largest public solar energy generating projects.

The clean and silent solar photovoltaic systems will save taxpayers $18.35 million over the term of the 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) and avoid an estimated 15,428,397 lbs of carbon emissions annually. This is equivalent to taking 1,338 passenger vehicles off the road or preserving 66.4 acres every year.

"This project will save taxpayers more than $1 million per year in energy costs, significantly decrease carbon emissions and greatly contribute toward achieving our long-term sustainability goals," said Freeholder Director Jack M. Ciattarelli. "Just as importantly, with this bold initiative, we continue to demonstrate environmental leadership and our commitment to keeping Somerset the ‘greenest’ county in New Jersey."

Under the terms of the PPA, there will be no capital outlay for any of the participating local governments. Vanguard will build, own, operate and maintain the solar systems for 15 years, selling the renewable electricity to the County at predictable, discounted rates. Citi, acting through its Municipal Securities Division, will be an equity investor in the project with Vanguard.

In addition, the projects will include an educational component that will track solar performance through a real-time, web-based monitoring system provided by Branchburg, N.J. – based Noveda Technologies.

"We are excited and pleased to support Somerset County’s outstanding leadership and commitment to its citizens and the environment," said Vanguard CEO Jim LaFleur. "This private-public partnership in renewable energy is a win-win because it will save money for taxpayers, support the local economy, and benefit the environment."

By Bernie Hornick,