By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
With Phase 1 of the Wildcat Wind Farm in operation, E-on Climate & Renewables plans to begin the permitting process for Phase 2 in Howard and Grant counties by the middle of this year.
E-on officials provided information on the wind farm project in an event Thursday sponsored by the Tipton Chamber of Commerce at the Tipton County Foundation.
Andy Melka, project manager, said the company is in the process of finalizing leasing agreement with property owners and planning for the construction. He said construction work will begin this year.
The second phase of the project will generate 100 megawatts of electricity with between 40 and 60 wind turbines in Grant and Howard counties. Melka said phase three will be a 200 megawatt project in Howard County and the final phase of the project will be in Tipton County.
Bob Zahn with E-on, confirmed the company purchased leases for up to 16,000 acres in western Tipton County from AES. He said E-on is in the process of contacting the land owners and has signed leases for between 5,000 and 6,0000 area.
That property mainly located west of U.S. 31 and there is no time line for the project.
When asked where the 200 megawatts of electricity from Wildcat Wind Farm 1 is being sold, Melka said Indiana & Michigan Electric has purchased half of the output with 40 percent staying in Indiana and the remaining 60 percent being sent to Michigan. Melka said the remaining electricity is being sold on the spot market, with much of that going to the East Coast.
Zahn said E-on is producing 2,400 megawatts of electricity in the U.S. and has invested $4.5 billion over the past four years. He said the company has 75 projects under development in America that would produce another 10,000 megawatts of electricity.
“Most of the wind energy doesn’t stay in Indiana,” he said. “Indiana has coal plants that are currently producing electricity at a low cost. We will supplement the coal powered plants in the future as they are taken off line.”
The Congress recently extended for one year which provides 2.2-cents for each megawatt generated through wind power.
Melka said company officials are still trying to determine what the one year extension means. He said in the past to qualify for the federal credit there had to be five percent of the total project costs spent.
Zahn said wind energy proponents understand the subsidy will be discontinued. He said the subsidies will eventually go away for all fuel sources.
“We can be competitive if all the subsidies are removed,” he said.
Concerning the Wildcat Wind Farm project, Zahn said the area has the third or fourth highest wind velocity in the state and is a perfect location for a wind farm development.
He said during construction there were between 250 and 350 jobs created, which is more than the number of people working on the U.S. 31 Kokomo Corridor.
Zahn said the company is paying between $500,000 and $750,000 on an annual basis to property owners and that the wind farm could be in operation for 30 to 50 years.