First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, recently commemorated the fifth anniversary of successful commercial operations of its Steel Winds project, which is located on a former brownfield site. Situated on the shores of Lake Erie just south of Buffalo, New York, in the city of Lackawanna, Steel Winds I has produced nearly 200,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy since it began commercial operations on June 1, 2007. It has also successfully transformed the Lackawanna waterfront from a forgotten industrial expanse into a progressive energy landscape.
“As our first project in New York and given its truly unique location, the Steel Winds project has always been one of the more captivating projects in our growing portfolio of wind facilities across the country,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “In the five years since the project went online, we have built two more projects in New York including a recent six-turbine Steel Winds II project and our largest wind project in the Northeast, in the Town of Cohocton. These wind projects are making positive economic and environmental contributions to their communities and surrounding regions while supporting New York’s ambitious clean energy goals.”
Since the Steel Winds I project achieved commercial operations, First Wind has expanded the project and its generation capacity in New York. In February 2012, First Wind completed the 15 MW Steel Winds II project, just adjacent to the original project. In January 2009, First Wind also brought online its 125 MW Cohocton Wind project in Steuben County. Collectively, these three projects have the capacity to generate enough clean electricity to power nearly 60,000 New York homes, which has helped bring the state closer to its goal of 30 percent renewable energy sources by 2015.
· Since it went online on June 1, 2007, Steel Winds I has generated more than 200,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity.
· In February 2012, First Wind completed the six-turbine Steel Winds II expansion, located in Lackawanna and the town of Hamburg; the 35 MW cumulative project now has the capacity to generate enough clean electricity to power approximately 9,000 New York homes annually. The Steel Winds I project has effectively powered approximately 5,500 homes every year since it went online five years ago.
· Situated on the former Bethlehem Steel facility, which has been returned to productive use under the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield Cleanup Program, Steel Winds has enabled the innovative and environmental reuse of industrial land project.
· Construction included clean-up of former toxic waste site, involving more than 30 acres of new, clean soil cover and revegetation on the site.
· Based on data recently published by the U.S. EPA’s Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID), a traditional fossil-fueled facility in New York producing an equivalent amount of electric energy as Steel Winds I would consume over 65,000 barrels of oil or over 15,000 tons of coal per year.
· The power produced by both phases of the Steel Winds project is the equivalent of decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by over 23,000 tons annually (also according to E-GRID).
Economic and Community Benefits
· First Wind makes $100,000 payments in lieu of taxes payments to Lackawanna’s general fund. Since Steel Winds I went online, that has translated into half a million dollars in new revenue for the surrounding community.
· Now that the Steel Winds II project is online, the two Steel Winds projects will result in an average of $190,000 in annual tax revenue to the surrounding communities and school districts.
· Two local high school students have received scholarships through the First Wind Scholars program. Since the program was founded in 2009, $3,000 college scholarships have supported two graduates of Frontier Central High School in Hamburg, who have displayed strong potential for a successful college experience as well as interest in the environment, energy or the sciences.