Dominion announced today plans to develop a 300-megawatt wind generation facility in Central Illinois. Prairie Fork Wind Farm would feature 150 to 200 turbines constructed across approximately 25,000 acres in Christian and Montgomery counties, about 25 miles southeast of Springfield.
Mark F. McGettrick, president and CEO of Dominion Generation, said:
"Dominion is aggressively pursuing opportunities to add to its growing portfolio of emissions-free, renewable generation. We recognize that clean energy sources such as wind power are important in meeting our nation's energy needs and in attaining a balanced, diverse energy portfolio. Diversity offers the most viable approach to greater energy security and stable energy prices. Prairie Fork Wind Farm represents another important step forward in our long- term strategy."
The Prairie Fork project would increase Dominion's renewable generation capacity to nearly 1,300 megawatts in operation or under development. That is enough to power nearly 325,000 homes.
About 800 megawatts of Dominion's renewable energy portfolio would come from wind power. This includes partnerships in two other wind energy projects: a 325-megawatt share of the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm under development with BP Alternative Energy North America in Benton, Ind.; and a 50 percent interest in a 264-megawatt project being developed in Grant County, W.Va., with Shell WindEnergy Inc. Other Dominion renewable generation includes hydro and biomass facilities.
The Prairie Fork project also would bring Dominion's generation capacity in the Midwest to more than 3,200 megawatts, enough to power more than 800,000 homes. The company's Midwest capacity includes a balanced portfolio of nuclear, coal, natural gas and - with Prairie Fork Wind Farm - wind generation. The company's 1,158-megawatt coal-fired Kincaid Power Station is located just north of the potential wind farm site.
Construction of Prairie Fork Wind Farm is expected to begin in 2010, subject to necessary permits and approvals. Commercial operation could follow in 2011. The project would be developed by Dominion Energy, Inc., a Dominion subsidiary.
The project would provide significant economic benefits to the Central Illinois region. This includes hundreds of construction jobs while the project is being built and 15 to 20 permanent jobs to operate and maintain the facility. Land owners on whose properties turbines, transmission lines or substations are located would receive regular long-term income. The project would also mean increased tax revenue for Christian and Montgomery counties.
Scot C. Hathaway, vice president-Business Development, said:
"Dominion is proud to have been a part of the vibrant Central Illinois community for many years through our Kincaid Power Station and its employees. With Prairie Fork Wind Farm, we hope to expand that relationship by providing many additional benefits to the community without disrupting the current agricultural uses of the land. We look forward to partnering with local land owners and community leaders."
Initial studies suggest that Christian and Montgomery counties have excellent wind resources, Hathaway said. More comprehensive studies, including the placement of test towers, will occur over the next several months. The number of wind turbines installed would depend, in part, on the results of the studies.