MARTINSBURG, NY – PPM Energy, ScottishPower’s (NYSE: SPI) competitive U.S. energy business, and Zilkha Renewable Energy today announced the start of construction of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm (formerly called Flat Rock Wind Power Project). Maple Ridge is expected to be commercially operational by the end of 2005. Zilkha and PPM are equal partners in the venture. The Goldman Sachs Group (NPSE: GS) recently announced plans to acquire Zilkha Renewable Energy, subject to regulatory approvals.

Located near the towns of Martinsburg, Lowville, Watson and Harrisburg about 75 miles northeast of Syracuse, the Maple Ridge project has been named to honor the maple sugaring tradition in Lewis County, the leading maple syrup producing county in New York. The first phase of Maple Ridge is expected to be 198 megawatts (MW), using 120 1.65 MW Vestas turbines. The site also has expansion potential.

Phase I of Maple Ridge will more than quadruple the amount of wind power in New York, a state with a 25 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) designed to be in full effect by 2013, one of the most aggressive such policies in the nation.

“The community has given the Maple Ridge project a warm welcome, and we thank the citizens, as well as local and state authorities, for their enthusiasm for clean, renewable, locally produced wind energy,” said Michael Zilkha, co-owner of Zilkha Renewable Energy. “And we congratulate Governor Pataki and the Public Service Commission for their environmental stewardship, exemplified by their development of the RPS. We also congratulate the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for their long-term support of renewable energy.”

“PPM is pleased to be part of this landmark project that will more than quadruple the total installed wind capacity in the state of New York, helping the state meet its renewables goals,” said Terry Hudgens, PPM Energy’s CEO.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced that five power generation producers, including the Maple Ridge Wind Power Project, have been selected to provide power in the form of renewable energy, or “green” power, in the first phase of the Renewable Portfolio Standard Program.

“Increasing the amount of renewable energy that is produced in New York is one of the key components of the State’s energy policy,” said Peter R. Smith, President of NYSERDA. “The Maple Ridge project is a shining example of how we can promote economic development, improve our energy security, and provide a cleaner and healthier environment for all New Yorkers.”

The project will support the local economy through royalty payments to about 100 landowners and property tax payments to seven local tax jurisdictions; construction will create up to 300 jobs at the peak of building. While the entire project spans approximately 21,000 acres, the actual footprint of the turbines uses less than one percent of the total acreage. Landowners will continue using the remainder of the land for pastures, timberland, farming, and leisure activities.

The first phase of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm will provide clean electricity to 59,400 New York homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s calculation.

The Maple Ridge project is situated near Martinsburg, Lowville, Watson, and Harrisburg in Lewis County on Tug Hill, the ideal location for New York’s largest wind farm. With an average elevation of 1600-1800 feet, Tug Hill is an ancient geologic formation that lies just downwind of the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, separated from the Adirondacks to the east by the Black River Valley. At a maximum elevation of 2000 feet above sea level, the Tug Hill plateau experiences strong lake-effect weather patterns and has long been known for its exceptional wind resource.

According to Terry Thisse, Supervisor of the Town of Martinsburg, “The social and economic benefits from this project are many. A large increase in the tax base for the county, towns, and schools is just one of them. The positive effects from an environmentally friendly project of this size will be enjoyed for many years to come. The Town of Martinsburg is proud to be the primary host for this important project.”

Original press release: PPM and Zilkha Announce Maple Ridge Wind Farm Landmark Project Will Quadruple New York Wind Energy Capacity (PPM Energy)