By Matt Montgomery
While Apex Wind Energy is fighting to secure their new wind farm project in an area in between Piedmont and Okarche, the town of Calumet is feeling a boost in the economy of their town from the existing Canadian Hills Wind Farms, just north of Calumet.
Canadian Hills is a wind farm project hosted by the Virginia-based Apex Wind Energy that is still growing and already spans several miles across the landscape just north of the Calumet town line at Memorial Road.
Apex is in the process of solidifying a new wind farm project, Kingfisher Wind Farms that would touch the northwest section of Piedmont and span west towards Okarche. It is proposed to have about 150 wind energy turbines in the project.
Last week, Apex released an estimated tax revenue and infrastructure value by school district chart. The chart indicated the Kingfisher Wind Farm project would provide about $95,042,000 in infrastructure value to the Piedmont School District, and estimated the project would yield about $689,000 in local tax revenue to the Piedmont School District.
Canadian Hills Wind Farms is already showing a change in Calumet, according to the town’s mayor.
Calumet Mayor Mike Crowly said with change there is always going to be a little getting used to, but since Apex developed Canadian Hills in the Calumet area just several months ago, the local diners and gas stations in Calumet have seen a great increase in out-of-town customers.
“The Town of Calumet has experienced more daily traffic and more daily activity in our town, which leads to economic development which is always a good thing for us to have,” Crowly said. “Our stores and our restaurants in town have benefited from the wind farm experience which intern will lead to more sales tax for the town of Calumet.”
One of the local diners Monday afternoon was packed almost to capacity and the owner said that out of the maybe 30 people dining there, only one person lived in the town of Calumet, implying that the majority of their customers at lunch time are workers from out of town.
Both Crowly and the Calumet Police Department said they haven’t heard much of anything detrimental from the birth of Canadian Hills from the community members.
“The way it always is, when you have change and any type of construction, you are always going to have some situations that are different and people are not used to,” he said. “But I think Apex has been pretty good about handling any situations they can and handling any people’s issues.”
In fact, Crowly said the biggest issue he’s heard come from the Canadian Hills Wind Farm project is the change in the landscape, but added that projects like wind farms and gas drilling take some getting used to.
“If you look at the overall economic situation of the landowners in the area, if they receive the tower on them, then they are going to see some residual revenue that will come to town, that they will receive while that farm’s in operation,” he said. “I guess it’s a give and take, if you can accept the fact that there’s a little change in the scenery and maybe it works out for some people.”
He said the greatest amounts of complaints probably came from private landowners in the area who didn’t want to sign into Apex’s agreement.
The Kingfisher Wind Farm project that could impact both Okarche and Piedmont is still in the process of development and is awaiting a final decision between representatives of Apex and Piedmont.