Shown are some of the turbines of the Timber Road II wind farm. (Photo submitted)
Shown are some of the turbines of the Timber Road II wind farm. (Photo submitted)
PAYNE - The EDP Renewables North America Wind Farm official opened its doors on Wednesday and the international company could not have been happier about beginning operations.

"We are happy to show that wind works," said Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables, formerly known as Horizon Wind Energy. "This is another testament that wind works. We are not polluting anything, we are not destructing anything - we are not burning a fuel to turn into electricity. We are just taking advantage of something that is a natural resource and making a benefit out of it."

EDP offically cut the ribbon on Wednesday as the Timber Road II Wind Farm opened up to a 99-megawatt wind farm for renewable energy outside of Payne, just over the county line in Paulding County. This is the first commercial, large-scale project to open in Ohio and the implications for today and into the future have a lot to do with the changing climate for businesses in Ohio.

"The fuel itself is free - wind - and no other fuel can say that," continued Alonso. "We see a big benefit for landowners who will be getting millions of dollars in revenue. It will raise millions for local communities. We are very proud. The one thing you can not discount is that we are right on the border of Ohio. Three miles away (in Indiana) the wind resources are the same.  But why we chose (Ohio) has to do with policy. The alternative energy standard and the right incentive for utilities to buy wind or solar energy. This is very good for us but very beneficial for consumers and AEP Ohio because they are getting fixed prices for 20 years. Policy matters, it was critical for us to get this project done."

Coupled with the changes in Ohio that made it worthwhile to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, EDP is also looking to the future with ground breaking technologies.

"We are installing the latest technologies, the Vesta 100, and on days like today, we are producing about (14) megawatts," Alonso said. "This is why wind is viable in Ohio. A few years ago it wasn't but the technology improvements has made it more productive."

The EDP Timber Road II project is just the first step in the program laid out for Ohio. The $175 million dollar project has contracted with over 100 local landowners to power more than 27,000 homes. The project will utilize Vesta 100 1.8 megawatt wind turbines with more than 60 percent of the products produced in the United States.

Denise Bode of the American Wind Energy Association pointed out that this project is the fruition of a lot of hard work and will lead to more than just the direct jobs associated with the program.

"This is a whole industry beginning in the state," she told the Times Bulletin. "This is a the fruition of a lot of hard work to open up Ohio to this new commercial-grade development  because now there are a lot of people who want to come here and build manufacturing now, too. You really want to build (the products) close to where you have the wind generation. So, this is the first step in what we think will be a new industry in Ohio."

Bode pointed out that supply chains are already in Ohio to manufacture parts for the turbines and training centers like the Vantage Career Center are ready to supply workers to perform maintenance and repairs on the equipment.

Other local officials spoke at the ceremony, praising EDP for the Timber Road project and the affect it has had on the local economy.