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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Work on wind farm starts in Benton County fields

Thursday, September 20, 2007

FOWLER, Ind. (AP) -- Construction work has started in the fields of northwest Indiana's Benton County on building 87 turbines for what would be the state's first electricity-generating wind farm.

Some farmers have cut down part of their crops to make room for the Benton Wind Farm turbines since preliminary work began in late July in setting concrete foundations for the turbines, building roads to them and running electrical cables.

Orion Energy Group plans to start selling electricity from the wind farm in May, said Turner Hunt, a project manager.

The turbine towers will stand about 265 feet tall and are being built throughout an area 7 miles wide and 5 miles long. They will be able generate up to 130 megawatts of electricity.

Duke Energy, which has a service area covering much of central and southern Indiana, has agreed to buy up to 100 megawatts from the wind farm. Hunt said other companies want to buy power from the wind farm, but he declined to name them.

Orion's project is on schedule to be the first commercial wind farm in operation in Indiana, said Eric Burch, a spokesman for the state's Office of Energy and Defense Development.

Farmer Bob Suiter Jr. said Orion is building three turbines on land where he farms corn and soybeans about 25 miles northwest of Lafayette. Each turbine takes up about a third of an acre, and the company is compensating Suiter for the crops it removes.

The company is leasing the turbine sites from about 100 landowners, Hunt said. They can expect to make from $5,000 to $10,000 a year from the agreements, according to Orion.

Suiter said he receives a flat fee for renting his land. Any payments beyond that will be proportionate to the amount of power generated by the turbines. He expects the lease to be lucrative.

"I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think so," he said.

BP Alternative Energy of Houston also is looking at building a wind farm in Benton County. The company has agreed to sell up to 200 megawatts of electricity from those turbines to subsidiaries of American Electric Power.

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