WINDOM – Xcel Energy recently submitted proposals to state regulators for three wind energy projects, including one located primarily in Jackson and Cottonwood counties with small portions in Watonwan and Martin counties.
The proposed Odell Wind Farm would be a 200 megawatt project and also under a power purchase agreement with Geronimo Wind Energy. The other two Upper Midwest wind energy projects proposed by Xcel Energy are Courtenay Wind Farm near Jamestown, N.D., and Pleasant Valley near Austin.
The Odell Wind Farm, slated to begin in 2014, is anticipated to benefit local economic development.
“We’re happy to see new wind development in Jackson County,” said Jackson County Coordinator Janice Fransen. “It will be win-win for the taxpayers of Jackson County and further add to our tax base and be good for the landowners participating in the project. It will also bring jobs during construction.”
Geronimo Wind Energy Vice President Betsy Engelking anticipates the project will raise county tax revenue by $880,000 annually, and landowners in the area are projected to receive $1.1 million in direct payments annually.
Geronimo Wind Energy has also committed $40,000 annually to a community fund that will be managed by a local board.
“That board will decide what kind of community projects the funds will be used for – school playgrounds, ballfields, roads,” explained Engelking. “It will be up to the community board, and the board is typically representatives of various townships and landowners.”
There are 296 wind turbines in Jackson County and 37 in Cottonwood County. The project will add up to 119 turbines, roughly split between the two counties with a handful in Watonwan and Martin Counties.
The Odell Wind Farm site was chosen because of wind resources and because of its proximity to Geronimo Wind Energy’s original wind farm, Odin Wind Farm.
“The Odin Wind Farm will be very close,” explained Engelking, “We’ll be filling in the sourcing area with this project.”
Construction is anticipated to start in 2014 once the project is approved and has received the necessary permits.
“Our expectation is that we will take the necessary steps to begin the process before the end of this year, which is what we need to do to qualify for the federal tax incentive,” Engelking said.
The energy generated will be used to meet local demand with excess energy diverted to the Xcel Energy network.
Engelking added that the company anticipates completing the Odell Wind Farm no later than 2015, and all three projects are slated to be in service by the beginning of 2016.
The proposed projects would add 600 megawatts of wind resources – enough to serve 180,000 homes and increase the Upper Midwest wind power by 33 percent. At the same time, the projects are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 1.2 million tons each year in Xcel Energy’s Upper Midwest service territory and lower customer costs by $180 million over the lives of the projects.
The projects will take advantage of the competitive cost of wind power, which is lower than other possible resources, and offer a degree of stability in the face of rising and often volatile fuel prices.
“These projects will lower our customers’ bills, offer protection from rising fuel costs and provide significant environmental benefits,” said Dave Sparby, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel energy company, in a press release.
Xcel Energy submitted the projects to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the North Dakota Public Service Commision for consideration. The company indicated it would continue to evaluate projects and could make additional proposals if similar benefits could be achieved.
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