Study for Wind Farm at Landfill Approved

Study for Wind Farm at Landfill Approved
SNOW HILL- Worcester County might have up to a dozen windmills added to its skyline by 2013.

County Commissioners gave National Wind, LLC the go ahead to begin a feasibility study this summer to determine whether or not wind speeds are sufficient for a wind farm to be built on top of the Newark Landfill.

“I consider this a very preliminary request,” said Patrick Pelstring, the Co-Chair of National Wind.

Pelstring told the commission that his company has predicted the Newark site could be ideal for an 8 megawatt to 20 megawatt, or 6 to 12 turbine, installation. However, he stressed that a feasibility study would need to be conducted before any other steps could be taken, and that things were only in the earliest stages.

Having a wind farm in Newark has the potential to be a significant boon for the county.

“By developing on your landfill site, we could maximize the “re-use” of this site and likely lead to a significant annual cash royalty for the County and its budget,” said Pelstring in a letter to the commission.

Because it’s still early in the process, Pelstring was only able to ballpark the possible cost of the project. He estimated it would be between $16.5 and $32 million, depending on how many turbines eventually go in. Each turbine would require approximately an acre of space, possibly a bit more. The landfill is 725 acres. However, Public Works Director John Tustin warned that much of that 725 acres is already being used.

“There’s very little space left,” he said.

Pelstring explained that whether or not there is sufficient space would be part of the feasibility study. He added that it might be possible to include some private landowners surrounding the site if it came to it. Regardless, he assured the commission that the goal of the wind farm was not to interfere with the area.

“We fully understand your primary purpose for the site is a landfill,” he said.
Besides space, the commissioners had a few other worries about altering the county skyline.

“Thousands of ducks and geese fly through there constantly,” said Commission President Bud Church.

Pelstring assured him that migratory patterns are taken into account when finding sites for wind farms.

Commissioner Judy Boggs had no specific qualms, but felt the proceedings were going too fast. She suggested waiting to make a decision.

“I think we need to consult further with staff,” she told the commission.

Pelstring said a slight delay was fine; while there is a $50k grant his company could apply to for the feasibility survey, it wasn’t a priority for them.

The rest of the commission, however, pointed out that it was only a survey Pelstring was asking for, and that approving it would cost the county anything. They voted 6-1, with Commissioner Madison Bunting opposed, to grant the request for a feasibility survey. That process will involve building a meteorological tower at the land fill to gauge conditions. Pelstring expects that the survey will be completed by October 31, 2011.