BP is working with its partner Dominion to construct the 750MW Fowler Ridge wind farm. It will be built in phases; the first of which will produce 400MW of energy and the additional work will generate an additional 350MW.
While coming home from West Lafayette, I decided to take Route 18 to 41 to avoid an overturned semi on I65 between exits 193 and 201 which had both northbound and southbound closed. Shortly after entering Benton County I began to notice windmills, and not just a couple here and there. The landscape was covered with them. During my Masters Capstone course at IU in Gary, I decided to work on alternative energy as my final group project. We came upon a project that was being conducted with BP Amoco. The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm is located in Benton County, Indiana, about 90 miles north of Indianapolis, and will be one of the largest wind-power facilities in the world and will be able to generate enough carbon-free electricity to power more than 200,000 homes. In a statement from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, "Indiana is becoming a leader in clean energy production, including wind, clean coal technology, biofuels and other alternatives. America needs more homegrown energy from every source, and the greener the better."
Bob Malone, Chairman and President of BP America said in a May 29, 2008 Press Release, “The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm is just one example of BP’s continuing effort to expand and diversify U.S. energy supply. This year we will invest more than $6 billion in US energy projects with about 10 percent going to wind and solar power and biofuels research. By year end, we’ll have a thousand megawatts of wind power on line with plans to double that in two years.” The Fowler Ridge project will provide significant benefits for the local community. These include new sources of revenue to the local landowners, although BP will retain sole ownership of the first 100 MW, new industry which will provide goods and services, as well as new sources of taxing bodies and a new tax base. This project will create new jobs. The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm is expected to employ nearly 350 people during peak construction and a full-time staff of at least 12 workers who will monitor and maintain the site once phase one of the project is fully operational.
The Northern Indiana Public Service Company is not very receptive to this project. As a group we researched many aspects of the wind energy concept and which companies, organizations, and public agencies had been involved in research and development. Tax incentives are an important part of the renewable energy puzzle. According to the Internal Revenue Service as well as state and local agencies there are no tax incentives being offered in the Northwest Indiana region. One reason NIPSCO may not be involved in the research and development of any wind energy projects is revenue. Expanding wind energy would cut into NIPSCO profits. As a concerned community it is important to contact our local, state, and federal legislators to continue work on renewable energy projects. These laws need to be changed in order to maintain and realize sustainability for future generations.
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