Wind turbine from drone

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EDP Renewables, which owns Meadow Lake Wind Farm, has given $75,000 each to four communities in White County to put toward a project of their choice.

WHITE COUNTY — Four communities in White County were awarded a total of $300,000 thanks to a benefits package provided by Meadow Lake Wind Farm.

The wind farm, operated by EDP Renewables, will give $75,000 each to Chalmers, Brookston, Reynolds and Wolcott to put toward a project of their choice. All four communities are located near Meadow Lake’s six-phase wind farm that extends from north to south in western White County.

The money will be used to fund a new fire station in Brookston; a splash pad and repairs to the American Legion building in Chalmers; a new electric sign and lights for the community baseball field in Wolcott; and an electronic marquee sign and upgrades to town facilities in Reynolds.

“Since the completion of the first phase of our Meadow Lake Wind Farm in 2009, EDP Renewables has continued to grow and invest in White County thanks to the support we’ve received from local communities,” said Matt Thornton, senior development project manager at EDP Renewables. “This donation is one of the ways we want to show our appreciation. We’re excited for the opportunity to work with local residents and give back to an area that has been so welcoming to us for more than a decade.”

EDP Renewables relied on input from local leaders and wind farm operations staff who live and work in the area to determine which projects would benefit from the support package.

In February, EDP Renewables met with leaders and community members from each of the four towns closest to Meadow Lake Wind Farm to listen to their current priorities and learn how to best support their goals.

The benefit package is a part of a series of contributions given to organizations in White and Benton counties in 2020.

“EDP Renewables worked directly with the towns closest to Meadow Lake Wind Farm to explore the best opportunities to support them,” said Steve Burton, White County commissioner. “We want businesses in White County to make a positive difference here. EDP Renewables’ desire to support the communities they work in is genuine — and appreciated.”

EDP Renewables also provided $16,000 in COVID-19 relief to the White County Food Pantry; Good Samaritan Food Pantry; Honey Creek, Chalmers, Prairie Township, Wolcott and Remington fire departments; and Community Action Program of Western Indiana.

Terry North, Brookston Town Council vice president, expressed his thanks to EDP Renewables, adding that the money will now complete what the town needs to build a new fire station without having to borrow funds.

“We’ve outgrown the old fire station and the new one will bring us up to the standards a fire station should have,” he said. “The council and our engineer, Ken Smith, of Municipal Civil Corp., have worked very hard over the last three-plus years to now actually have the funding to complete this project.”

Faith Willoughby, Chalmers’ town manager, said she has worked with EDP Renewables to identify projects in need of funding.

“The Town of Chalmers will be able to provide the volunteer fire department with much-needed equipment, assist the historic American Legion with critical building repairs, light up Chalmers with new holiday decorations, repair and improve our town marquee sign, add new planters downtown to beautify our streets and establish seed funding for a splash pad in our beautiful Town Park,” she said. “This donation has brought so much excitement to our community.”

Michael Johnson, president of the Wolcott Town Council, said the money will help his community thrive.

“The information sign will let our residents and people driving through our town know of upcoming activities and help our local businesses,” he said. “The money allocated for the Park Board will enhance future activities for our youth.”

The 801-megawatt Meadow Lake Wind Farm has been operating in Indiana for 11 years, producing enough clean energy to annually power the equivalent of more than 200,000 average Indiana homes. It is the fourth-largest wind farm in the United States.

The six-phase project has boosted the area’s economy, disbursing approximately $11.3 million in payments to local governments, more than $51.3 million to local landowners and an estimated $65.4 million within 50 miles of the wind farm through 2019.

Meadow Lake has also created 429 full-time equivalent construction jobs during the projects’ construction and 63 full-time, permanent jobs to operate and maintain the wind farm.

EDP Renewables is currently constructing two other wind farms in White County — the 102-megawatt Rosewater Wind Farm, with 25 turbines, near Reynolds; and 302-megawatt Indiana Crossroads Wind Farm, with nearly 80 turbines, near Chalmers and Brookston.