By Ken de la Bastide
The first phase of the Wildcat Wind Farm in Tipton and Madison counties has been completed by the Jan. 1 deadline with future development contingent on the extension of the federal tax credits for wind energy.
Andy Melka, project manager for E-on Climate & Renewables, said Thursday that all 125 wind turbines have been constructed and the maintenance and operations facility near Windfall has been completed.
Melka said 101 of the 125 turbines have been commissioned with the remaining 24 turbines expected to be transferred to operations in the near future.
Half of the power being generated by the Wildcat Wind Farm has been contracted to American Electric Power, he said. The remaining 50 percent of the electricity produced is available on the short-term market.
There are 69 turbines located in Tipton County and 56 in Madison County as part of Phase 1 of the planned development. Phase 1 had an estimated total investment of $400 million. Phase I will produce 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide electrical power to 60,000 homes.
Phase 2 is to be developed in Howard and Grant counties with 40 to 60 wind turbines to be constructed, with 80 percent of the project located in Grant County. It is expected to generate 100 megawatts of electricity.
Phase 3 will have 65 percent of the wind turbines in Howard County, southeast of Greentown with the remainder in Grant County. Phase 4 will be located entirely in Tipton County. The two phases will generate an anticipated 800 megawatts of electricity.
“We still have the site plans to develop,” Melka said of the second and third phases. “We still have land to secure in Howard County.”
Depending on whether or not the federal tax credit for wind energy is extended and for how many years, work in Howard and Grant counties could begin in 2013.
Matt Tullis, a spokesman for E-on, said the company was confident Phase 1 would be completed on time.
Concerning the extension of the tax credit, Tullis said there is a lot of support in the U.S. Senate and the fate of the extension will depend on the vote in the U.S. House.
“Future phases will depend on the tax credits,” Tullis said. “We would like to get started in 2013. A lot will depend on the language included in any legislation to extend the credits.”
The production tax credit provides a 2.2-cent tax break for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from large-scale wind farms.
Speculation is that the tax credit will be extended and phased out over five years.