The swishing sound of wind turbines is slowly getting closer to being a reality in Pratt County.
Nextera, the company that bought the leases from BP, is continuing efforts to get all the necessary studies complete before they can proceed, said Tim Branscom, Pratt County planning and zoning administrator.
Branscom and the planning and zoning committee are working with Bickely Foster, a planning and zoning consultant with Foster and Associates as they evaluate Nextera.
During a recent meeting with Nextera, Branscom sat down with representatives to find out how they were doing and to make sure both entities were on the same page so Nextera would be able to bring all the necessary documentation when they return.
Among the necessary information are studies on soil, impact on wildlife and environment, location of setbacks, topographical maps, archeological information, impact on birds and endangered species, turban description, location and number of generators, fire safety plan and more.
“It’s a pretty extensive list,” Branscom said.
There were no surprises at the meeting and everything went smoothly.
So far, Nextera is still planning on going forward with the project that will create a wind generation farm in Pratt County south of Pratt and east of U.S. 281. The original application was for an area from south U.S. 281 to SE 20th Avenue and from SE 20th Street to SE 60th Street.
This is a general area. Some land is leased in the area and some is not so Nextera will not have access to every piece of land in the area.
Branscom said there had been some talk about leasing additional land but so far Nextera has not filed another “special use” application that would be required if they had decided to take on additional leases in the proposed wind farm area.
Once the studies are complete, Nextera will come before zoning and planning again. The committee will review the studies then send them to the Pratt County commissioners for their approval.
The commissioners have a couple of options. They can accept the studies as presented, reject them or they can send them back for further information. If more information is needed, Nextera will provide the information and send it back again for approval.
Once the commissioners approve the application, Nextera will have to secure a construction-zoning permit from Branscom before they can commence building.
The long-range outlook for the wind farm is completion by the end of 2016.
Construction of a wind generation farm in Pratt County has drawn both those in favor and those against the structures in the county.
Currently, the closest wind farm to Pratt County is Flat Ridge No. 1 in Barber County. The west end of Flat Ridge is about six miles south of Isabel, just across the Pratt County line in Barber County and is around 28 miles from Pratt.
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