A MET (meteorological) tower to measure wind velocity, direction and other information soon will be erected southeast of Navarre.
Data gathered by the MET tower likely will be used to expand a wind farm – the Diamond Vista Wind Project— under development in Marion and McPherson counties.
Dickinson County commissioners on Thursday approved a conditional use permit to Tradewind Energy of Lenexa to install the tower south of 1100 Avenue, east of Mink Road, on private property. The CUP application previously was approved by the county planning commission.
“Our fuel source is wind. We have to verify the wind is of a quality that can move a wind farm,” explained Brice Barton, Tradewind Energy senior development director.
“A MET tower is the first thing we get out to start collecting data. It helps us with laying out a design. We can’t just order turbines and put them up. We have to prove their turbine will work in the wind regime we have,” he said.
The MET tower – a temporary structure that can be put up and taken down quickly – will be 197 feet high, secured to the ground with guide wires, meets aviation standards and requires no additional utilities or infrastructure. The CUP is for a five-year period.
“Utilities want to know we have the fuel to deliver the power they need,” Barton said. “You can’t get financed if you can’t prove you can produce power.”
If TradeWind does decide to expand the Diamond Vista Wind Project into Dickinson County, the company will ask the county for additional permits, Barton said.
The MET tower and any wind farm development is only done on private property, Barton said.
“We have to have private agreements with every property owner we want to exist on,” Barton said. “We don’t have eminent domain rights. We’re a private company. We can’t force anything on anybody.
“We’ll come to the county to get right-of-way permits to cross your right-of-way. We only want to exist in your right-of-way for getting from one private property owner to another,” he explained. “We have to get crossing agreements to cross your roads and use your road network.”
County landowners interested
Plans for development of the Diamond Vista Wind Project started last year. Barton recalled that Dickinson County Commissioner LaVerne Myers attended an information meeting in the Marion County town of Tampa when the company was looking at developing in Marion and McPherson counties.
“We have to interconnect to the big Westar (Energy) substation north of Hope (in Dickinson County). We were always going to run a T-line somewhere through the area and as we talked to landowners we realized they really wanted to be involved in the wind farm as well,” Barton said. “So we decided to put a MET Tower by Navarre so we could understand how wind moves across the site.”
Even without the official data from the MET tower, Barton said that Tradewind’s “wind guys” already believe it’s a viable site, so much so that the company has “actually started leasing ground in the area to be part of the project.”
Currently, there are six MET towers gathering data in Marion County and one in McPherson County.
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