First Wind Commemorates Completion of Steel Winds II Expansion

February 21, 2012 Updated Feb 21, 2012 at 2:52 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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First Wind Commemorates Completion of Steel Winds II Expansion

February 21, 2012 Updated Feb 21, 2012 at 2:52 PM EDT

(WKBW release) First Wind, an independent U.S.-based wind energy company, on Tuesday celebrated the completion of its Steel Winds II expansion. 

According to a news release issued Tuesday:

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and other local leaders joined First Wind officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the project site, which was built on the shores of Lake Erie on the abandoned Bethlehem Steel mill site. With Steel Winds II now in commercial operations, the 35 MW cumulative Steel Winds project will have the capacity to generate enough clean electricity to power approximately 9,000 New York homes—and help bring the state closer to its goal of 30 percent renewable energy sources by 2015. 

“Fifty years ago Western New York set ourselves apart by taking advantage of our natural resources and building the Niagara Power Project,” Higgins said in the news release.  “Today, with the addition and expansion of Steel Winds we again demonstrate our ability to embrace the regions’ unique characteristics and harness the power of the wind to create clean energy.  Here, on land at the water’s edge that has sat dormant for too long, we again have people working as we take what was old and make it new again to build a stronger tomorrow.”   

Steel Winds harnesses the famed winds of the Great Lakes region, revitalizing local pride in a site that had been forgotten and neglected since Bethlehem Steel’s closure in the early 1980’s.  Economically, the Steel Winds II project will provide a source of significant revenue by adding an average of $190,000 in annual tax revenue to the surrounding communities and school districts.  First Wind also makes $100,000 annual voluntary payments to the cities of Hamburg and Lackawanna’s general funds.

“The Steel Winds project demonstrates that business can be innovative and successful when given the opportunity,” said Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters.  “To return a long vacant Brownfield back into a productive piece of property is something everyone should be excited about.  We are very proud to be part of this project with Steel Winds to bring clean wind energy to Erie County.”

“Green energy is not just a trend of current times, it must be the trend for the future of civilization,” said Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski  “I am honored to have Lackawanna continuing the trend of the utilization of natural energy while working with First Wind and the expansion of Steel Winds project.  They have restored beauty to our waterfront and brought international notoriety for the creative use of turning a brownfield into a Greenfield.”

Located just south of Buffalo, New York, in the city of Lackawanna and town of Hamburg, the Steel Winds I project is situated on a 30-acre portion of the former Bethlehem Steel facility, which has been returned to productive use under the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield Cleanup Program.  The 20 MW first phase went online in June 2007.  As part of the 15 MW expansion, First Wind installed six additional 2.5 MW wind turbines on additional portions of the old Bethlehem Steel mill site.

“We are very happy to see this expansion complete and the continued transformation of this site from a forgotten industrial expanse into a progressive and renewable source of clean energy,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind.  “We’ve partnered with the Lackawanna and Hamburg communities for several years now, and we appreciate the immense support from the local leaders and community members as we worked to expand this already successful project.  We also recognize the excellent work of Tennessee Valley Infrastructure Group (TVIG), which was the contractor on this project.”

During construction of the expansion, for which TVIG was the general contractor, Steel Winds II created about 100 jobs, and several local businesses saw an increase in business and revenue. 

Steel Winds has also made a tremendous contribution to improving the environment.  Construction of Steel Winds I and II enabled the innovative reuse of industrial land.  A traditional fossil-fueled facility in New York producing an equivalent amount of electric energy would consume over 115,000 barrels of oil or over 32,000 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, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID).