More than 20 landowners in Clay County have signed leases in connection with possible wind energy projects in the area, though any construction in connection with the developments likely is years away.
Jimmy Horn, owner of Horn Wind PM LLC, told the Times Record News that about 10 landowners near Bluegrove signed leases for the installation and operation of wind turbines on their property; about 15 have signed leases for a development near Byers.
Still, if construction begins at all, it likely won’t start before 2018 – developer Horn Wind and owner Alterra Energy Corp. are waiting for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before any work can be done. Whether they’re able to obtain a tax abatement from Clay County commissioners could play a role in whether the plans come to fruition.
“These things take a long time,” Horn said.
The Bluegrove project is expected to take up 3,500 acres in the rural county and is estimated to a $150 million development. The Byers project, which Horn said was “average” size in planned for 8,000 acres could cost $300 million.
Vashti, whose residents initially were being courted by wind developers, is no longer part of the plan because landowners didn’t appear to be interested in signing leases, Horn said.
But as the wind industry makes inroads on its development plans, opposition to the projects also have picked up the pace. A vocal group of Clay County residents who are against wind energy projects in the area were joined last week by Sheppard Air Force Base, whose officials said the developments could interfere with radar and flight operations.
A high-ranking base official said at a town hall meeting in Henrietta that the Department of Defense may move its pilot training missions to another air force base is wind turbines are installed in the county.
Horn said he doubts that wind projects would have a significant impact on Sheppard operations.
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