KEYSER, W.Va. — Upgrades to the Pinnacle wind farm are underway and expected to be completed later this year, parent company Clearway Energy Group recently announced.
The San Francisco-based clean energy company announced that it will begin the process of re-powering the plant, or making upgrades to the existing turbines to lengthen their life spans.
In a recent interview, Dan Hendrick, the head of external affairs for Clearway’s eastern division, said that the receipt of $128 million in financing for the Pinnacle farm work will allow the company to entirely replace the 23 existing turbines with newer, more efficient ones. Around $89 million of that money is for the construction, he said.
Since Pinnacle first went on the grid in 2012, Hendrick explained, wind energy technology has improved significantly. After preconstruction work like grading is completed, crews will get to work taking down the existing turbines and replacing them with the more efficient models. That will be done sequentially, Hendrick said, “so that there are never too many off at one time,” allowing operations to continue.
Replacing the turbines, Hendrick said, effectively adds another nine years to the project’s 30-year timeline. That means another nine years of tax benefits for Mineral County, he said. While the project incurs around $500,000 in tax revenue annually for the county, Hendrick said the improvements will likely generate as much as $200,000 more.
It will also extend the life of Pinnacle’s Community Benefit Fund, which Hendrick said awards around $20,000 to local nonprofit organizations and others annually. In the past, he said, those funds have been dedicated to groups like the Mineral County Historical Society.
A committee of local residents reviews the applications, Hendrick said, and decides where to award projects accordingly.
“It’s very nuts and bolts stuff that sounds maybe not so huge, but in many ways is actually what the community really needs,” Hendrick said.
The construction process will create around 50 temporary jobs in addition to the 10 or so full-time workers already employed at the farm, Hendrick said.
Clearway announced the construction of a second farm, the Black Rock wind farm, to be located along the border of Mineral and Grant counties.