IPL parent plans 200-tower Indiana wind farm-WEB ONLY

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The parent company of Indianapolis Power & Light Co. is planning a wind farm with 200 or more towers that could become the state’s largest generator of the alternative energy.

AES Corp. plans to build the wind turbines in a 75,000-acre area along the Clinton-Tipton county line north of Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday. The project would cost up to $1 billion and mark central Indiana’s entry into the growing market.

Paul Burdick, a vice president of Arlington, Va.-based AES, said the company hopes the wind farm will produce 400 megawatts of electricity, or roughly the output of a midsize coal-burning power plant and enough to power about 400,000 homes.

Turbines could start going up next year, Burdick said.

A 400-megawatt project would be the largest wind farm project in Indiana so far. A 300-megawatt project for American Electric Power in Benton and Tippecanoe counties is due to come online this year.

AES has nearly completed lease negotiations.

Clinton County farmer David Ristow said several European companies also approached him about leasing land for a wind farm, but AES offered the best deal and prospects to him and other landowners.

Landowners also liked the fact AES is a U.S. company, has ample resources to complete the project, owns the power utility serving Indianapolis, and wants to take on the entire wind farm project by itself, Ristow said.

AES has offered landowners $5,000 to $10,000 for each wind turbine on their land, plus smaller payments for easements on lines and access roads. In Clinton County, it would amount to $2 million or more in annual lease payments – a fraction of the $100 million farmers collect from grain production.

Indiana ranks 14th among states in wind-energy output, the American Wind Energy Association reports. Its first full-scale wind development, a 130-megawatt facility in Benton County, came online last year. Several other northern Indiana wind farms that generate a total of 400 megawatts were finished earlier this year.

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