Wind farm finally off ground on Laurel Mountain (West Virginia)

A wind farm approved two years ago is finally under construction and should be finished by the end of summer 2011.

A total 61 wind turbines will be placed over 8 miles of ridge line on Laurel Mountain in Barbour and Randolph counties, said Barry Sweitzer, director of the $250 million AES Laurel Mountain wind energy project.

Sweitzer told The Inter-Mountain that parts for the wind turbines will arrive through the end of the year, and substation work will be done over the winter. About 150 people are already on the job, he said.

The main contractor for the job is Tennessee Valley Infrastructure Group, but Sweitzer said AES is also using a local concrete supplier and local truckers.

"Most of the people working there … are from within an one-hour drive,” he said. "A local work force is able to do the job.”

Although the Public Service Commission approved plans for 65 wind turbines, Sweitzer says Virginia-based AES Corp. decided to scale back slightly.

AES has previously said the wind power project should generate about $500,000 in state and local taxes, 80 to 100 construction jobs and eight to 10 operational positions after construction is complete.