September 15, 2006

Huge wind farm project advances

By Dick Johnson, Of The Globe Gazette

HAMPTON – Franklin County’s Zoning Board of Adjustment approved 192 applications for conditional use permits and variances Thursday, advancing one of the nation’s most ambitious wind farm projects.

The permits cover 350 farm fields involved in the Franklin County Wind Farm project, County Zoning Administrator Russell Wood said Friday. Some landowners have multiple parcels.

Iowa Winds LLC of Iowa Falls plans to build a 200- to 300-megawatt wind farm covering about 40,000 acres around Bradford in southern Franklin County.

Wood said engineers will pinpoint where the huge wind turbines should stand, then present site plans and building permit applications for each tower.

Iowa Winds will start construction next spring on the project, estimated to cost $200 million to $300 million. The company has estimated the wind farm will create about 40 full-time jobs, and add about $2 million per year to the county’s tax base.

“I’m glad the Board of Adjustment approved it,” Wood said. “It’s going to be a good thing for the county, and I think it’s going to be a good thing for the state. I’m looking forward to having it here in Franklin County. We’re hoping that maybe people who have other economic interests will look at opportunities in Franklin County as well.”

Over 100 people attended Thursday’s meeting at Hampton-Dumont Middle School. The Board of Adjustment took residents’ questions and heard information from Iowa Winds and supporters including Eurus Energy America Corp., a leading wind power developer.

Wood said the board studied permit applications for each township involved: Grant, Hamilton, Ingham, Lee, Marion, Morgan, Oakland, Osceola and Reeve.

Applications for three parcels in Ingham Township near Hansell were denied because the registered parcels were eight or more miles away from the project, in another township, which would probably not have been built on.

Also, Iowa Winds agreed to set turbines back at least 2,500 feet from public use areas in Reeve Township.

Wood said the towers will range from 1.5 to 2.5 megawatts apiece, with 150-foot blades spinning 400 above the ground. The utility company which purchases the electrical power will determine where it’s needed most, Iowa Winds business development representative Amber Schwarck said last month.

Iowa Winds signed a 30-year easement with the landowners, with two 10-year options, so the towers could stand 50 years.

The 662-megawatt Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, covering about 47,000 acres in west Texas, is the world’s largest wind farm, according to its owner, Florida-based FPL Energy.

Horse Hollow was completed last month. It will have a capacity of 735 megawatts.

Reach Dick Johnson at 421-0556 or

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