MANTORVILLE – If all goes according to plan, Nextera Energy Resources will build an 89-turbine wind farm in Dodge County in 2018.
A public forum to discuss the project is set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec 8 at the Claremont American Legion, 220 W. Front St.
Clay Cameron, community development leader for the company, talked about the project with Dodge County commissioners during their committee of the whole meeting Nov 22.
Representatives from the company have been researching the project for about three years. Bryan Garner and Victoria Ingalls, spokespeople for the company, said that before a decision is made to place a wind farm anywhere in the U.S., the company must first determine if there is enough wind to support the project. Then they talk to local farmers to see if there is interest in leasing land for the turbines. Each turbine takes about one acre of land. The turbines provide another source of income for farmers, who can still farm around the structures, Garner said.
Next, the company determines if there is access to transmission lines for the electricity generated by the turbines. In this case, Xcel Energy is partnering with the company to provide the transmission lines. Garner said the company plans to build a new substation for the 200-megawatt farm. The company must then find a utility that wants to purchase the electricity generated by the turbines.
Because the project is so large, the state Public Utilities Commission will issue the permit through the Wind Siting Act.
Before construction starts – scheduled for the spring of 2018 – Dodge County will negotiate a road use and repair agreement with the company. Roads in the neighborhood of the turbines might have to be upgraded and intersections enlarged to handle the truck traffic during construction.
Ingalls said the company has other energy farms in the state, including the Lake Benton II Wind Energy Center in Pipestone County; the Mower Wind Energy Center, which began operations in 2006; the Buffalo Ridge Wind Energy Center in Lincoln County, and the Marshall Solar Energy project in Lyon County, which is still under construction. The company has 110 wind projects across the U.S. and Canada.
Garner said projects like this have “… a tremendous economic impact on an area.” He said that during the anticipated 30-year life of a project this size, local government entities can anticipate $20 million in tax benefits to the area.
“Schools, roads and other key services reap the benefits,” he said. Landowners will be paid about $34 million in lease payments.
The construction phase will generate about 200 jobs, and the completed project will create about 10 full-time jobs.
Nextera is paying for the project, said Garner, “a $300 million capital investment.” The company will receive federal tax credits in the future.
A project this size can serve about 60,000 homes.
Experts from the company will be at the forum in Claremont on Dec 8 to answer questions.
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