A windpower company wants to invest about $300 million into Faribault County, and erect between 80 and 100 large wind towers in Barber Township.
And, while some of the residents seem to be embracing the idea, one group is opposed and is posting anti–wind tower signs in the area.
Representatives from EDF Renewable Energy held a meeting in Delavan on Sept. 20 to explain just what the scope of the project would be. They invited landowners who are in the area of the proposed wind farm to come to the meeting. And, that did not make the rest of the residents of the township very happy.
“We did not invite all the residents due to the size of the meeting venue,” says Jacob Salisbury, the land acquisition specialist for EDF. “This is just the beginning stage of the project and we don’t know if it is for sure until we get the landowners on board.”
Salisbury said they have about 1,200 to 1,500 acres of land leased for the project already.
The name of the project is the Oza Tanka Wind Project, and Salisbury says the name comes from a dry lake bed by that name that is where the towers will be built.
EDF is also busy working on another windpower project that is both in Faribault County and in Martin County. It is called the Rose Lake Wind Project and it is proposed for Pilot Grove Township in Faribault County and in East Chain Township in Martin County.
“We want to work with the local people here,” Salisbury says. “We are sensitive to the issues that they are concerned about. That includes aerial spraying, hunting and others.”
He adds that there is a lot of misinformation being spread around, sometimes by social media.
“I want people to hear us out, and see what we bring to the table, he said. “I want people to call me with their questions and concerns.”
His phone number is (612) 419-4631.
One thing being spread around the area concerns the leases themselves, Salisbury says.
“The lease language can be adjusted,” he says. “It is not a blank template lease that is take it or leave it. They can be changed to suit each landowners own situation.”
EDF as a company is not new to the industry, says PJ Saliterman, project development director. They have been around since 1987.
“We have been very active in many windpower projects in Minnesota,” Saliterman says. “And we have others in the works at this time, too.”
He says the reason is interested in Barber Township has to do with the new electrical transmission lines and electrical substation being constructed in the local area.
“When we build a wind farm, we need to get the energy from the towers and into the electrical grid,” he says. “Or else it isn’t viable financially.”
Another reason to choose the Barber Township location is the ridge that runs through the area. It is like a hump, Saliterman says, with higher elevation in the middle of two lower spots.
“Wind produced energy is now reliable and cost effective and it is here to stay,” the project director adds. “Just look around southern Minnesota and you can see what I mean.”
The Oza Tanka Wind Farm is expected to be a 200 megawatt farm and use the newest turbines available, which now is Vestas V-100 and V-110. But by the time the project is built, in 2020, there could be two plus megawatt turbines available, the two EDF employees say.
When the project is completed it is expected to generate around $800,000 in energy production taxes for Faribault County, school districts and townships.
Salisbury pointed out that Mower County is collecting over $2 million per year from energy production taxes.
There will also be substantial payments made to landowners for leasing the land both where the towers are, where easements are needed and where the transmission lines are placed, the company says.
EDF Renewables says that last year, in 2016, they paid out $6.5 million in payments to landowners where their projects are located.
“This is economic development coming knocking on your door,” says Saliterman. “This is a serious project that generates a lot of money for the communities where they are located.”