Horizon Wind Energy finalizes work on a wind turbine on Wednesday afternoon. This turbine is located in the southwest corner of Paulding County, just north of U.S. 30 and east of State Line Rd. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
Knowing that wind energy will soon be a part of Van Wert County, many residents have an eye to the north and the Timber Road II Wind Farm in southwestern Paulding County. That project has wind turbines beginning to pop up within sight of travelers on U.S. 30. And that's only the beginning.
Horizon Wind Energy is hard at work on the initial stage. Project Manager Erin Bowser reported, "We started construction in December and will be completed and operating by mid-summer. We have two turbines fully erected and these guys are really starting to hit their stride, so you'll start to see one or two get completed every single day, weather permitting."
The turbines are going up in sections. The tower itself is put up in four pieces -- the base, a lower midsection, an upper midsection, and a top section. On top of that is placed the nacelle and rotor which are 95 meters or 311.7 feet above the ground, then three blades are attached.
Looking across the landscape, two turbines have blades attached, another handful have the nacelle sitting atop the tower sections, and another dozen or so have at least the tower base rising up from the land. Also out on the landscape are many sightseers, driving the country roads to watch wind energy technology come to life.
The original plan for Timber Road II has been split into two sub-projects. The current portion under construction will consist of 55 Vestas turbines, each generating 1.8 megawatts (MW) of power for a total of 99 MW. Turbines to produce the remaining 50 MW are part of what is now being called Timber Road III.
Bowser admitted that this is a very exciting time for those who have been a part of planning the wind farm as turbines begin to dot the countryside. She said, "They are erecting these one at a time, and then they'll start commissioning, which is making sure everything is completely up to standard and ready for becoming fully operational."
Still to come is Timber Road I in Paulding County's Harrison Township. There 30 turbines will generate 48.6 MW. Then, still in the planning stage is Timber Road IV which will take in eastern Harrison Township, work south through Paulding and Blue Creek Township and across into Tully Township of Van Wert County.
At this point, Tully Township is the area where Horizon is focused in Van Wert County.
In Van Wert County, the other company with state approval is Iberdrola Renewables' Blue Creek Wind Farm, which is set to put up 152 turbines to generate 304 MW of power.
If all goes well for Horizon, Bowser expects around 200 turbines between the four phases of Timber Road Wind Farm. That makes 350 turbines between the two projects. Then there is the potential of North West Wind adding a wind farm in northern Van Wert County and BP Wind Energy who is exploring the possibility of a wind farm in southern Van Wert County.
So far, Bowser has no complaint with the way Horizon has been treated by Paulding County. "It has been excellent. Really a good relationship with the landowners, commissioners, trustees, county engineer. It's been a really, really good working relationship with the community," she expressed.
Aside from the turbines, the rest of the project is proceeding as well. Bowser reported, "The substation work is going really well. That's happening right under the large power line that runs along St. Rd. 114. We just closed on the property that we purchased for the operations and maintenance facility at the old Wildcat Creek popcorn facility just north of Payne. We're using the existing building for storage and building a new building which is already under construction. And we just hired our operations manager who will be here running the wind farm once everything is up and running.
Besides the operations manager, Timber Road Wind Farm will also have technicians on site as well as personnel from Vestas, the manufacturer of the wind turbines.
With a few turbines already causing stares from interested residents and travelers alike, it is hard to imagine what the region will look like by the end of 2012. With more than 200 turbines scheduled to be reaching toward the sky and the potential of even more in coming years, the two completed turbines offer only a hint of what is to come.