May 12, 2010
Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life, or a bump in the road or a hiccup, but Jeff Metzger of Just Wind says, “I’m an eternal optimist”.
Metzger, founder and CEO of Just Wind, with an office in Napoleon, has been working on a community owned wind farm in Logan County, near Napoleon for roughly the past 3.5 years. Over the course of those 42 months the upstart company has jumped through many hoops and hurdles to get to where it is today. In a sit down interview with the Homestead last Friday (May 7), Metzger said, “We are closing in on the financing for the project and we plan to start dirt work by June 15.” He said things change from day to day and week to week. “But as we sit here today I can tell you we are in the process of finalizing construction contracts and turbine purchase agreements.”
Metzger said there are a couple of upcoming deadlines which will definitely move the project forward. “By May 18 we should have our interconnect agreement finalized and our WAPA power purchase agreement in place.” He also said he plans to finalize agreements with Wanzek Construction, the general contractor, for the project.
In recent weeks the company has had to make some difficult staff cuts, said an emotional Metzger. He said they’ve reduced the number of staff by 11 in both the Minnesota and North Dakota offices. “We have the greatest people working for us, but if you don’t have any income we have to look at reductions in operations and overhead.” The current staff of the company is now at seven employees.
As an eternal optimist Metzger said we, (Logan Wind Farm) need to be producing power by year’s end. “We have to provide WAPA with 100 megawatts of power to fulfill a contract.” In order to fulfill this contract Metzger said, they need to have 42 turbines in place and the plan calls to start placing turbines in the southwest corner of the proposed project. He said his staff is continuing to work with other utility companies who may be interested in purchasing the power generated from the planned 153 turbines for the entire project. The 150 plus turbines would produce 367 megawatts of power. “Our number one concern now is to get phase I of the project up and running,” said Metzger.
Metzger attributes some of the recent cutbacks to the slump in the financial markets and due to other economic factors. He said his company has been working on other projects throughout the state, but they are concentrating on three other projects at this time and are working feverishly on the Logan County project to get construction started.
“I’ve never told a lie and I could have sold the project off, but I’m committed to the project and to the community of Napoleon,” said Metzger. “We want this wind farm to benefit Logan County and the community and we want to provide jobs to the community.”
He said he has a couple of important meetings within the next few weeks to finalize things and there are many in the industry who have told him that they can’t believe this project is as far as it is. He noted other communities have been working much, much longer and still don’t have a producing wind turbine. “It’s been a learning curve for all of us. This speaks a lot for the people who work here and we are all dedicated to the project”, said Metzger.
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