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“We’re actively developing the Glacier’s Edge Wind Project in western Cherokee County near Marcus. The projected project is 200 megawatts (MW) and we hope to be in service by the end of 2019,” said Chris Sternhagen, Director, Development for EDF Renewable Energy based out of Minneapolis, Minn.
Sternhagen responded to numerous emailed questions.
In the summer of 2015, Mark Buschkamp with Cherokee Area Economic Development (CAEDC) and Darrell Downs with Marcus Economic Development began working to secure a large commercial-scale wind farm for Cherokee County. They reported that they’d met with or contacted several wind energy developers to determine which one was the right fit for Cherokee County. They settled on EDF Renewable Energy as the wind energy developer to work with Marcus area landowners.
In 2016, EDF assessed an area in the Marcus area to see if there was any viability for hosting a commercial-scale, wind farm project. EDF reported in a June 13, 2016 letter that the results of their initial analysis were very encouraging. Subsequently, EDF set up a Marcus office with Right of Way agent Derrick Westenberg located in this office.
EDF reported that they had received significant support from land owners in a general area northwest, north and northeast of Marcus where the largest concentration of committed landowners are located.
At a June 2016 Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting, Sternhagen and Westenberg reported that the project is to be a 150 to 200 MW wind farm situated on about 15,000 acres. Perhaps 100 wind turbines will be located in this area. They, again, reported that there was “strong” support in the project area from the local landowners.
EDF’s most recent project completed in Iowa is the 250 MW Lundgren Wind Farm in Webster County, Iowa built and operational in late 2015. The Lundgren project was subsequently sold to MidAmerican Energy upon completion of the project’s developmental phase. EDF has developed six Iowa wind farms for a total of 907 MW of wind generated power.
As of June 2016, EDF paid over $1,687,907 to local landowners in the form of lease agreement payments. Over 57 full-time jobs have been created in Iowa through EDF’s efforts. About 900 temporary, full-time construction positions have been created through EDF’s efforts.
Sternhagen responded to numerous other questions via email on May 17. Regarding a timeline for the Glacier’s Edge Wind Farm, Sternhagen reported, “Major milestones will depend on the timing of the energy sale but we are projecting a year end 2019 commercial operations date (subject to change). With that in mind we would likely begin construction in the 2nd quarter of 2019 (likely April – May range weather dependent), again subject to change.”
When questioned about EDF’s current regulatory filings with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) or the Iowa Utilities Board, Sternhagen said, “The project does have a MISO queue position that is working its way through the interconnect process for the 345kV MEC line you referenced below.”
The project is to connect onto the 345,000 volt power line that passes through northwest Cherokee County from a coal fired power plant south of Sioux City to Lakefield Junction, Minn.
When MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC) proposed its 552 megawatt Wind X electric generation project to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) in Early 2015, MEC proposed a cost cap of $1.638 million per megawatt. However, the IUB imposed a lower cost cap of $1.61 million per megawatt when it modified the initial proposal.
The IUB noted in its August 2015 approval order, “This lower cap reduces the risk to customers and provides an incentive to MEC to keep costs low while still providing a contingency for unanticipated changes that could increase costs above that shown by MEC economic analysis.”
By using that Wind X cost cap figure of $1.61 million per megawatt to estimate a net acquisition cost for the 200 megawatt Glacier’s Edge Wind Project, this shows that the final cost for the project upon completion in 2019 could approach $322 million.
Regarding a question about the amount of acres where landowner lease agreements have been secured, Sternhagen said, “To date the project has leased ~28,000 acres near Marcus, sufficient land to construct the project. We don’t typically provide maps for print until later in the project development cycle. We are not actively soliciting any further land at this time but may down the road if additional folks want to participate.”
Regarding the number of MET towers planned for analyzing the area’s wind resource, Sternhagen said, “By the end of the next week we will have 5 MET’s installed across the site.”
Regarding a question about any critical public meetings planned between now and the end of this year, Sternhagen said, “To date we have held two large scale public meetings and expect to do so again later this summer (date to be determined), likely after the spring farming activities slow down. As development continues we will hold additional public meetings to gather additional local stakeholder information for use in siting, etc. To date, local support for the project has been strong.”
“Environmental analysis on the site began in early 2016 and will continue into 2018,” Sternhagen noted.
Regarding the choice of wind turbine type and size, Sternhagen reported, “No final decisions have been made on a turbine type to date and therefore no siting decisions have been made either. Once we complete site analysis and stakeholder input then we will work to develop layouts and preliminary designs. The process is iterative and will take some time before it’s concluded.”
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