Over 100 people turned out for a wind farm development meeting in Strasburg Thursday night to learn about Just Wind’s plans for the area.
Jeffrey L. Metzger, Just Wind’s Chief Manager, of Mound, Minn., reported on the project which could involve 400 wind generators spread across 64,000 acres in southwestern Emmons County (primarily west of Strasburg). Estimated cost of the project is roughly $1 billion based on the $3.7 million cost per turbine. Actual project cost will depend upon many factors, not the least of which would be inflation and the value of the U.S. dollar.
Metzger said the Strasburg operation would be the nation’s largest community-owned wind farm.
Option agreements were distributed to landowners. The agreements, when signed, would commit land to the project so that Just Wind can proceed to get financing from investors, whom he said are already being lined up for the project.
Just Wind has been working on developing a 150-generator project in the Napoleon area in Logan County for the past two years and recently received word from the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) that the power distribution organization is interested in purchasing electricity generated from the Logan County operation. Metzger said 55,000 acres have been signed up in that county and that Just Wind’s goal is to be generating electricity in 2011.
The goal for the Strasburg project would be a couple of years after that, although he said experience gained in Logan County should help expedite the Emmons County development.
Metzger urged land owners to discuss the option agreements with family members, attorneys and others so that they feel comfortable with the proposal.
According to Metzger, Just Wind envisions a wind farm that would be partially community owned with the majority being owned by investors.
Initially, land owners would receive between two and five percent of the farm’s power production income.
Metzger said land owners would have two sources of revenue—an estimated $4,000 annual payment per turbine on their land and a project pool payment. He said the pool payment for the Logan County project is estimated at $22,000 per year per landowner for the life of the project, which he projected would be 20 years or longer. The Logan County pool payments would likely be more than $22,000 now that the development has expanded from 80 turbines to 150. The Emmons County pool payment has not yet been estimated, Metzger said, and would be based on 400 turbines and many other factors.
Payments to landowners would increase annually by a two percent inflation adjustment factor.
Metzger said the Strasburg area site was chosen, in part, because of a wind study conducted on the Steve and Lynette Gefroh farm west of Strasburg by the University of North Dakota in cooperation with the Linton Industrial Development Corporation. It was favorable to wind generation, according to a report from the LIDC when the study was completed.
Just Wind has had contacts with owners of two transmission lines that cross the county in the area where the wind farm would be located. Metzger said the lines have the capacity to receive the electricity generated by the 2.4 Megawatt Mitsubishi turbines. The maximum generating capacity for 400 wind turbines would be about 960 Megawatts. However, Metzger estimated that the farm would operate at about 50 percent of total capacity because of varying wind velocity, wind volume and other factors, and he said that would be significantly higher than the current industry standard.
Just Wind has been in contact with Xcel Energy about purchasing the electricity, and discussions on a long-term agreement have begun.
Metzger said energy companies like Xcel are looking for alternative energy sources, especially wind, because states have begun to require that a certain percentage of electricity marketed must come from renewal sources. He said the federal government may also develop “green” energy mandates.
He also said that the proposal includes the possibility of Xcel buying an interest in the Just Wind operations.
Metzger said the next meeting will be held in the South Gym of the Strasburg School on Wed., April 2, at 7:30 p.m. Option agreements will be collected at that time, and there will be time for questions and answers. He will also report on progress made since last week’s meeting.
Contact information for Metzger includes his office phone— 612-245-6608 —and his e-mail address—firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Allan Burke
17 May 2008
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