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300-megawatt wind farm coming to Mitchell County  

In this day and age of fluctuating oil prices and unstable political conditions in the main oil producing countries, the United States is making a huge push for developing alternative sources of energy. One of those viable sources is the development of wind power.

Three proposed projects are in the works for Mitchell County in the near future. One project is a proposed “commmunity-based” wind farm north of Osage.

Specific details of the largest of the proposed projects, however, were revealed at last week’s meeting of the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors. At the meeting, representatives of Horizon Wind Energy of Houston, Texas, outlined their plans for a “first phase” 100 megawatt wind farm to be located near McIntire.

The company is one of the largest wind turbine developers in the United States and presently has wind farm projects in New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Washington and Costa Rica. Their most recent project involves an area around Grand Meadows, Minnesota.

The name of the company’s proposed project for Mitchell County is the “Pioneer Ridge Wind Project.”

If leasing proceedings and other negotiations continue in a successful manner, the wind farm project could begin construction in the summer of 2008.

Based on specific leasing agreements with landowners, the initial phase of the project will be located in the northeast section of the county and will also encompass a small section of Howard County.

Brenda Dryer, Mitchell County Economic Development Director, has helped work on the wind project for Mitchell County since 2004. She also has had experience with the Horizon Wind Energy Company while working a prior position in western Iowa.

“They are a very reputable company who has a sincere interest in helping Iowa develop their wind power capabilities,” Dryer said.

The original plan for the Pioneer Ridge Wind project is to develop a first phase-100 megawatt facility in the designated northeastern Mitchell/Howard area. Future plans include adding another 200-megawatt facility utilizing land in both Mitchell County and Mower County in Minnesota.

Approximately 61 towers and other related equipment will be set up in the original 100-megawatt facility. Each of the towers stands 240 feet tall. With the blades from the turbine at their highest point, the actual distance from the highest tip of a blade to the ground is nearly 400 feet.

Energy equal to 1.65 megawatts is generated per tower, thus the need for 61 towers to generate 100 megawatts of power.

The 200-megawatt second phase of the project will demand approximately 122 additional towers.

Construction of a wind farm normally takes nine months to a year to complete. The wind turbines and access roads usually occupy less than 3 per cent of the land in a typical wind farm.

Turbines are designed to run for 20-30 years. When they reach the end of their use, the wind farm is normally re-powered or the land will be restored to virtually its original condition.

Wind farms create partnerships with several groups of people. Landowners lease property to the company and receive compensation. The wind farms also provide economic development to rural communities through payments to landowners, creation of jobs and additional tax revenues.

Wind farms also create additional safe sources of energy. Producers desire to sell their generated energy to local energy companies for resale to consumers at hopefully very reasonable, consistent prices.

Wind farm companies additionally work very closely with farmers and landowners in areas such as environmental and wildlife studies, land use policies and other related topics.

According to information compiled by the Horizon Wind Energy Company, the popularity of wind power has made it the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in the world since the early 1990s.

–by Warren Haacke, Press-News Reporter

Mitchell County Press-News

4 September 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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