“We moved our headquarters to Pittsburgh because it was a great place to do business,” recalls Jim Spencer, CEO at EverPower Wind Holdings. Founded in 2002 in New York, the firm began placing employees in Pennsylvania in 2008 when it began operating projects along the wind-rich Alleghany ridge in the Southwest part of the state. Now, EverPower employs 36 people in its Pittsburgh headquarters and is the largest owner operator of wind farms in the Keystone State, with 307 MW in operation. The firm’s four Pennsylvania projects have created more than 400 construction jobs, 24 permanent jobs and more than $1 million in revenue to Pennsylvania towns, counties and schools each year.
“Community engagement is central to wind development,” explains Kevin Sheen, Senior Director of Development and Public Relations. Before developing a wind farm, EverPower staff will attend town hall meetings, hold information sessions, and other events to engage the local community on the project. Schools can be big beneficiaries of wind farms; for example EverPower’s 139.4 MW Twin Ridges Farm in Somerset County brought $223,000 in annual payments to local townships; $93,000 of which was directed to the surrounding school districts. But it’s not just local schools that see the values of wind.
“We moved our headquarters to Pittsburgh because it was a great place to do business” – Jim Spencer, CEO, EverPower Wind Holdings
While landowner payments can vary – landowners at EverPower’s PA wind farms can earn $15,000-$20,000 per year by housing a turbine on their property. Small farms often operate on the margin, with revenue varying each year based on economic forces and commodity prices. Despite annual variability, one thing remains certain: the wind will blow, and these farmers will earn income as a result. For small farmers this revenue represents an important component of their annual revenue and has helped many to upgraded equipment or even keep their farms. State level policies like the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard provide important incentives to develop wind energy projects in Pennsylvania. The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) provided a per-kilowatt-hour incentive to developers of wind power, helped spur the initial growth of the industry. However, its expiration in 2013, and uncertain future, created boom-and-bust cycles for the industry. Moving forward, EverPower hopes to grow under stable, long-term federal policy, so it can continue to provide clean energy jobs to Pennsylvanians.