The AES Laurel Mountain Windfarm is doing more than providing clean electricity that is not detrimental to the environment.
The 61 wind turbines also provide a boost to the local economy.
"We employ 13 people full-time and our budget is a couple million dollars," General Manager of AES Laurel Mountain John Arose said. "We are spending between $1 million to $2 million a year."
The Inter-Mountain file photos by Anthnoy Gaynor
A group of invited guests tours the site of the Laurel Mountain Windfarm shortly after the project was completed. The project, which includes 61 turbines, was constructed and is operated by AES.
The construction on the $250 million windfarm that spans 12.5 miles of the Laural Mountain ridge and covers two counties began in 2010. During construction, 350 jobs were created. Now that the windmills are operational, there are 13 full-time employees.
Approximately 2,000 acres that the windmills are on are leased from landowners in the two counties, while AES owns 30 acres. The power generated by the turbines will supply energy to approximately 14,000 households in the northeast region of the United States.
Arose said the windfarm recently has been assessed for taxes and the money will boost not only state revenue, but also the amount of money received by Barbour and Randolph counties. Arose said the firm will pay the state $350,000 to $450,000 in taxes, and $450,000 to $500,000 between the two local counties.
The money AES spends in the community spans several different industries and businesses. Arose said the company has made use of many of the local services. He said the firm hires a local janitorial company, and has used local catering companies like Graceland and Masterpiece Rentals.
"We have our tax base that we are building on," Arose said. "We are buying parts and gasoline locally."
Arose said this year, the company is working to improve and streamline its operations - including being prepared for an emergency.
"We are working with county agencies to develop an emergency preparedness plan," Arose said. "We are also working with local emergency groups to conduct a mock disaster."
He said local fire departments and the offices of emergency management are all helping in the mock disaster planned for May.
AES has 25 years of experience in wind power, and the company currently operates facilities in seven states, including California, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa and West Virginia. The site on Laurel Mountain is AES's first facility in the Mountain State.
The Laurel Mountain Windfarm and AES received a Project of the Year award from renewableenergyworld.com for 2012.
Contact Anthony Gaynor by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.