NextEra officials say a plan to build a wind farm in Pratt County is still on after withdrawing a request for longer turbine blades.
On Aug. 14, NextEra, a clean energy company, sent a letter to Pratt County Commissioners saying it wanted to withdraw its request to change the county zoning language on commercial wind energy criteria regarding how low a turbine blade can be to the ground.
This request was made in relation to the Pratt County Commercial Wind Energy Project to build the Ninnescah wind farm.
The letter stated the company had time to consult with the project’s turbine supplier and was able to find a model turbine that would comply with the county’s minimum blade clearance standards and regulations, said Steve Stengel, a spokesman for NextEra Energy Resources.
“There was no need to modify the zoning ordinance when we had a turbine that would comply,” he said.
The blade won’t be “materially different” than what the company would have used, and “it’s not going to change the project significantly one way or another.”
Stengel said although the company withdrew its request, the project is still on.
The project is still estimated to bring nearby communities $300 million in capital investment and up to 200 construction jobs and several permanent jobs.
The wind farm is projected to be finished in 2016.
Westar Energy will be purchasing the energy from this 200-megawatt wind farm, according to a Westar statement.
Originally, the Pratt County Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals set a meeting Monday to discuss NextEra’s request to change the criteria, which states a blade can be 85 feet from the ground, to 70 feet instead.
The board scheduled a public hearing to discuss the request July 27.
But board members had to reschedule it to Monday after realizing they hadn’t told the public about it.
NextEra has preapproval from the county of the project, but it still owes the county the final project configurations to sign off on, Stengel said.
“We expect to submit that later this year and would expect the county to sign off yet this year,” he said.
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