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A proposal to add 38 more wind turbines to the 108 south of Lamar has been reviewed by the Prowers County Planning Commission ahead of a public hearing. Pacific Wind Development, LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, LLC, is submitting a special use application for 11,000 acres of land 23 miles south of Lamar to the east of Highway 287.
The Pacific Wind Project, known as Twin Buttes II is currently zoned non-irrigated land, A-2. The project calls for the installation, operation and maintenance of up to 38 wind turbine generators with the capacity to generate 76MW of energy. Mary Root, County Land Use Director, said Pacific Wind was granted a permit for special use from Prowers County in 2005, two years after the completion of the first wind turbine project around Gobbler’s Knob. There was a slow market following construction of the turbines for several years, but there has been renewed interest in additional development. Because of that, Pacific Wind is requesting that a new permit be granted. The project would be adjacent to current wind generation projects, including the Colorado Green project in Prowers County and will not deviate from current land usage in the proposed area.
Mark Stacy, the Director for Iberdrola Renewables, LLC met with commission members to outline the proposed project. “We planning to construct the new turbines east of the current project and we’ll be able to use the current distribution lines to connect to the switching station,” he explained to the commission. He added that there are some details with the power purchaser for the new turbines, but believes the contract is on course. “All of the current leases with the landowners are good. We’ve been keeping in touch with them over the years,” he said, remarking about the 108 turbines which were constructed over a decade ago. Stacy said there would be five to ten new jobs created by the additional turbines.
The new turbines would be taller than the ones currently in use, consisting of a 262 foot hub height and a rotor diameter of 374 feet for the blades. Each turbine would have the capacity to generate 2.1 megawatts of power. If all the permits are approved, the company plans to start construction by the fourth quarter of 2015 and the turbines would be put into use by the fourth quarter of 2016. The project would expect to operate for a minimum of 20-30 years with a review of future possible operations after a 35 year period with upgraded equipment. “Right now, all the turbines are operating at capacity, so there are no immediate plans for upgrades,” he told the commission. Stacy did say that although there is good wind in this region, the current transmission grid is not sufficient to allow more development beyond these future plans.
The economy of the area would stand to benefit from the construction period with some potential jobs and an increase in the purchase of food, housing and fuel from local merchants. The tax base for the county would also improve as the result of the construction and operation of the wind farm. There is also an opportunity for continued wind turbine growth, pending future costs of power sources such as coal, oil and gas and development of transmission lines through the region. The owners of fourteen properties have been contacted by Pacific Wind for necessary easements for the turbines, access roads and transmission lines.
The Planning Commission set March 31st at 8:30am at the Prowers County Fairgrounds for the public hearing. Commission member, David Emick said, “The public will be able to voice their concerns on the project, and the Commission will decide on the Iberdrola request.” Once that has been achieved, the company can begin the first phase for the project.
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