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October 10, 2012

Developer energizes turbines at wind farm

E.ON Climate and Renewables, which owns and operates wind farms across the U.S., held a ceremony Tuesday in Elwood to celebrate its first wind farm in Indiana.

Though the Wildcat I Wind Farm project is still in progress, the company energized the first circuit Monday, enabling some of the turbines to begin to generate energy. Andy Melka, the lead developer for the project, said that 27 of the turbines were fully complete with dozens partially constructed. He anticipates that all 125 turbines will be completed by the end of this year. Nearly 150 E.ON employees, members of the local government and landowners attended the event.

Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold said the wind farm is the largest economic development project in northern Madison County history.

“These are the good days because you get to see something tangible being built,” said Tom Festle, of E.ON.

The wind farm, when completed, will produce 200 megawatts of energy, enough to power approximately 60,000 homes, according to E.ON Client Renewables North America CEO Steve Trenholm. Nearly 200 workers have been employed for construction of the project, and at least 10 positions will be created to maintain the wind farm. This will be the company’s 17th wind farm in the country.

“This project will pay about $31 million in local taxes, about $12 million in local salaries and more than $73 million to landowners over the life of the project,” Trenholm said. “Adding wind power to the agricultural, industrial and service mix here in Indiana provides a more sustainable long-term economy for Tipton and Madison counties and the surrounding communities.”

Mike Cline, president of the Tipton county commissioners, said the project will also be beneficial for the community members who will be hosting the turbines.

“Not only is it an economic development benefit to Tipton County and to Madison County, but it’s also an economic benefit to the landowners,” he said. “Without the landowners’ desire and willingness to sign the agreements with E.ON, there would not be a project.”

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