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Area eyed for wind energy  

Credit:  By BOB HANSEN, bhansen@newsexaminer.com, newsexaminer.com ~~

Firm evaluating potential in Posey, Fairview twps.

A Florida-based company is in serious negotiations with about 30 landowners in northwestern Fayette County about utilizing their property to generate electricity from the wind.

NextEra Energy Resources put up three towers in Posey and Fairview townships last fall to measure wind speed over the next few years. During December, they sent proposed agreements to landowners. Those who sign will agree to let NextEra pay them to operate wind turbines on their properties.

At least one resident of the area, Craig T. Mosburg, is against having the windtowers on his property. He is trying to organize neighbors in the affected area so they won’t sign the agreements. Mosburg has been providing information to neighbors and running ads in the News-Examiner that encourage people to go to a website that contains information about problems associated with wind turbines and NextEra.

Mosburg doesn’t want to have to look at the wind generators, which can rise to more than 300 feet above ground. A football field is 300 feet long.

”I’ve got a beautiful view and I want to keep it that way,” he said. His farm has been in the family since 1964 and he moved back there a few years ago.

Another resident, Larry Keller, is working with NextEra and local landowners. He said Friday that he has been involved with trying to bring a wind project to Fayette County for about 3-1/2 years.

“We’re in very early stages there,” said Paul Dockery, project manager for NextEra. “Early last year, our team … identified Fayette County as an area of interest for wind.”

Based in Juno Beach, Fla., NextEra claims to be the largest U.S. developer of wind energy and other alternative energy. It owns and operates more than 9,000 wind turbines in 85 projects. It is part of FPL, or Florida Power and Light.

A key difference between NextEra and other wind generation companies is ownership, Dockery said. The company builds the towers and then continues to own and operate them.

Other companies are likely to build the towers and then sell them to others. Sometimes the new owners do not honor terms of their leases.

Beyond the potential wind resource, NextEra is interested in the area because of the availability of the electrical power grid.

The company is looking at putting in 80 to 120 wind turbines, Dockery said. Each would take about 1 acre to 1-1/2 acres of farmground out of production. The towers would be connected to the electric power grid with underground wires. There also would be a need for transformers and other structures.

Last fall, the company obtained zoning permits to erect three meteorological towers, also called met towers, that are collecting wind speed data. “We have three or four months of data. We need a lot more,” Dockery said.

In addition to analyzing wind data from the met towers, the company will need to complete several other studies, Dockery said.

The company does not anticipate making a decision about whether to proceed with the Fayette County project until at least 2012, said Mary Wells, a company spokeswoman.

If the company decides to proceed, it will need approval from the Fayette County Area Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, said Bill MacDaniel, area planning director. The county has a Wind Energy Siting Ordinance that regulates placement of wind projects. It is based on an ordinance from Benton County, Ind., where more than one large wind energy farm has been built within the past 10 years.

The location for each tower would need to have a special exception. MacDaniel’s office would need to evaluate each site and make sure that federal and state laws are being followed. Factors such as drainage and environmental impacts would also be reviewed.

About NextEra

NextEra Energy Resources is a clean energy leader and one of the largest competitive energy suppliers in North America.

A subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.–based NextEra Energy, Inc., (NYSE: NEE), NextEra Energy Resources is the largest generator in North America of renewable energy from the wind and sun.

It operates clean nuclear power generation facilities in New Hampshire, Iowa and Wisconsin as part of the NextEra Energy nuclear fleet, which is the third largest in the nation.

NextEra Energy had 2009 revenues of more than $15 billion, nearly 43,000 megawatts of generating capacity, and more than 15,000 employees in 28 states and Canada. For more information, visit these Web sites: www.nexteraenergyresources.com and www.nexteraenergy.com.

Source: NextEra Energy Resources booklet

Other information

The Indiana Office of Energy Development web site provides information about wind generation and known projects in the state: http://www.in.gov/oed/2413.htm.

Other websites with information favoring wind power generation: www.alternative-energy-news.info/; http://indianadg.wordpress.com/.

Here are some websites with articles and information against wind turbines: www.wind-watch.org; www.midwestenergynews.com/?s=goodhue+wind; and http://lifewithdekalbturbines.blogspot.com/2010_04_01_archive.html.

Source:  By BOB HANSEN, bhansen@newsexaminer.com, newsexaminer.com

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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