Energy Storage

Lot holds windmill parts, pipe joints

The Inter-Mountain photos by Brad Johnson Unused pipe joints from the canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline project currently wait in a Buckhannon lot to be shipped by rail to Louisiana.

BUCKHANNON — A previously empty lot in Buckhannon is currently playing host to equipment used in one ongoing energy project, and another energy project that barely got started before it was ended.

The lot, located just off Route 48 close to the state Division of Highways building, is the temporary storing place for replacement windmill parts for the AES Laurel Mountain Wind Project on Laurel Mountain, and also for pipe sections that were originally to be used in the now-canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“These were two big projects. Unfortunately one of them isn’t going to happen now,” Mike Ross, the co-owner of the lot, told The Inter-Mountain this week.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline was designed to transport natural gas 600 miles from West Virginia, through Virginia, to eastern North Carolina. The project was canceled in July 2020 by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy.

Ross said a Louisiana company has bought unused pipe joints from the project that were being stored near Morgantown. The pipe joints are 42 inches in diameter and 40 feet long, and each weighs 1,500 pounds, he said.

The joints were driven from Morgantown, three per truck, and are in the process of being shipped by rail to New Orleans. Ross said 18 of the joints can fit on a rail car.

After the joints are modified in New Orleans, they will be shipped to Texas and used in a project in the Lone Star State, he said.

Also being stored in the Buckhannon lot are replacement blades and generators for the windmill project.

Ross said AES is “a top-flight company. It’s a big project in this area. A lot of local people are working on this.”

The wind turbine project that started development in 2005 has been operating on the Laurel Mountain ridgeline in Barbour and Randolph counties for more than a decade. The 61 turbines produce 1.6 megawatts each for a total capacity of 97.6 megawatts.

The replacement blades have been shipped from Florida and are 23 feet longer than the originals, which are being recycled.

“The old blades are being cut up, and then shipped to Missouri where they will be used in concrete,” Ross said. “Almost 200 blades will be replaced here locally.”

Ross said both the windmill blades replacement work, and the shipment of pipe joints to Louisiana by rail, may take from three to six months to complete.


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