Economic Development Director Anticipates More Renewables Success
The wind business is booming in east central Indiana. One hundred wind turbines went online in Randolph County three years ago this month, and just two weeks ago state, local and company officials cut the virtual ribbon on another wind farm with a footprint in both Jay and Randolph counties. One economic development director says the region is primed to reap even more benefits.
Landowners were among those celebrating the official commissioning event of the new Bluff Point Wind Energy Center, an array of 57 new turbines that straddles the Jay/Randolph County Line. Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch attended the December 7 function, calling it “an exciting project that represents a $200 million investment in our state.”
Randolph County Economic Development Corporation Director Greg Beumer agrees. He says his community continues to enjoy the rewards of saying yes to EDP Renewables and the Headwater Wind Farm. The turbines combine to produce about 200 megawatts of energy every day.
“Overall, the reception in Randolph County has been very good. Every year for 10 years EDP Renewables pays a $1 million economic development payment to the county. And that’s not to mention how it impacts indirectly other areas of the county budget,” Beumer explains. “When they turned the switch on in 2014, they rebuilt over 26 miles of county roads. That allowed the county highway department to earmark that money that would have been used for maintenance and upkeep on that 26 miles for other areas of the county.”
The new Bluff Point wind farm is a project of NextEra of Florida. Both it and the Headwater project provide electricity through American Electric Power (AEP). Bluff Point’s energy goes to AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power while Headwater’s agreement is with AEP subsidiary Indiana Michigan Power.
The Bluff Point wind farm is NextEra’s first project in Indiana. NextEra touts itself as the world’s largest generator of renewable energy, with wind projects in 20 states and four Canadian provinces. EDP Renewables also has wind farms across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, including one in White County, Indiana.
Beumer says EDP has already expressed a willingness to expand the Randolph County wind farm into a second phase as well as developing a solar property there. He’s hopeful that other regional counties that struggle with decisions on wind turbines come to see the same benefits. With two turbines on his own farm property, Beumer says he’s always ready to share with passers-by the experience of standing beneath one as well as the sense of pride knowing his community is part of the country’s clean energy movement.