MILFORD, Beaver County — The second phase of a company's largest wind project in the nation officially gets under way Wednesday, with officials celebrating an expansion that adds 68 wind turbine generators.
First Wind company representatives will be joined by Milford Mayor Bryan Sherwood, local business operators and Millard County Commission Chairman Daron Smith.
"I don't know how you can ask a company to be a better neighbor," Sherwood said, adding that the towering turbines about 7 miles north of Milford already stretching toward the sky have drawn their fair share of attention from passersby.
"We've had quite a few people who deliberately come out this way to see them. They changed the scenery out there quite a bit."
The first phase of the project began two years ago and became operational or went "online" in November 2009. It provides wind-generated electricity to Los Angeles residents via an 88-mile transmission line that connects it to Delta's Intermountain Power Plant.
Company spokesman John Lamontagne said the second phase, which will provide power to Southern California through another service provider, involves the installation of turbines that are roughly 389 ft. tall.
About 300 construction employees from the area were put to work on the first phase, which generated roughly $30 million in direct spending and $50 million in wages and state tax revenue, officials said.
Lamontagne is hopeful the second phase will be completed some time next summer.
The Milford Wind Corridor project started in 2002, when Milford High School teacher Andy Swapp involved his students in studying the potential for green power. The group started measuring wind with handheld devices and eventually turned the project over to First Wind in 2005.
The project that occupies Beaver and Millard counties has since generated a bond between community leaders and the Boston-based company.
Sherwood said the company came to the rescue last year for the town's Independence Day celebration, which was in jeopardy of being without fireworks because of the slow economy.
Instead, First Wind not only bought the fireworks but paid to have them professionally lit.
"We were happy to do that," Lamontagne said. "Milford has been so welcoming of our company and these projects. It has been a real pleasure to work with a community that not only embraces this kind of economic activity, but renewable energy."