By Barbara Kessler

Future energy literally rose above fossil fuels at a site in Pennsylvania where officials celebrated the opening this week of the Casselman Wind Power Project near Garrett, Pa., southeast of Pittsburgh.

Eight of the 23 turbines sit atop the site of a former coal mine.

“Pennsylvania is rapidly becoming a leader among states that are developing renewable and alternative energy sources and implementing advanced energy efficiency and conservation technologies,” said Governor Edward G. Rendell at the opening ceremony.

Rendell noted that the project will help create jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil and improve the environment.

“The Casselman project is a prime example of the growth we have been able to achieve through smart energy policies and our commitment to developing an advanced energy economy,” Rendell said.

The project was supported by a $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority that helped offset the increased costs of siting the wind turbines over the mine. The project is expected to produce 34.5 megawatts (MW) of power annually. The output has been sold for the next 23 years to FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.

The project’s developer IBERDROLA RENEWABLES also is hosting a wildlife study on the interaction between bats and wind turbines, in conjunction with Bat Conservation International, the company conducted tests this summer in which selected wind turbines were stopped during certain wind conditions. The experiments were aimed at shutting down turbines in certain conditions to reduce bat deaths.

“For the re-use of the coal mine and the wildlife study, we are proud of the industry efforts represented at the Casselman Wind Power Project,” said Don Furman, senior vice president for Development, Transmission, and Policy at IBERDROLA RENEWABLES. “We are committed to setting a high standard in the industry for conserving land and protecting wildlife.”

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