A Florida energy company that operates multiple wind farms in Kansas has announced a desire to locate a 200- to 300-megawatt wind farm in Reno County.
NextEra Energy will host an open house on Thursday evening at the Haven Community Center, 215 S. Reno in Haven, to “gauge interest in this type of project,” said company spokesperson Rebecca Rivera.
The come-and-go event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.
“For the proposed project we’re looking at a potential 2019-2020 build,” Rivera said. “We’re really in the early stages right now. What we’re doing Thursday is introducing ourselves to the community and gauging interest.”
Rivera was unable to say where the company was specifically looking for land, other than the southeast part of the county, but she said that there might be project maps at Thursday night’s event.
The company has dubbed the project “Silverlake Wind Energy Center,” and there is usually a local connection to the name, she said.
Silver Lake Road is an east/west road that runs across the southern part of the county, four miles north of the county’s southern border, and about eight miles south of Haven.
“A lot goes into siting,” she said. “They took a look at the wind, and access to transmission. We also have to do what we’re doing on Thursday. We need participating landowners to make a project.”
It only requires about an acre of land to install an individual turbine, so the size of the turbines will determine exactly how much land is needed. The company has not finalized those decisions. The farm could range from a low of about 76 acres required for turbines to more than 130 acres.
The overall spread of the farm will then depend on how contiguous the selected turbines sites are.
“If you’re a farmer planting wheat, you can continue to plant and harvest on the land,” she said. “Some say it’s the most productive acre they have (based on payments the company will make on long-term leases on the land.)”
“We want everyone to come out to the open house to learn about NextEra Energy Resources so that we can share our company info and info on the proposed project. We want people to talk about what’s on their minds and see if any are interested in participating in the proposed wind project.”
NextEra has been in Kansas since 2001 and currently operates six wind projects in the state. The most recent developments were the 208 MW Ninnescah Wind Farm and 206 MW Kingman Wind Farm, in Pratt and Kingman counties, respectively, which went into operation at the end of 2016.
The proposed project in Reno County would require conditional use permits from the county, Rivera said.
“We will have the project developer and land agent at the meeting, to meet with landowners to talk about land and sign them up there they are interested and have land in the area to look at.”
Rivera could not say whether Gamesa Siemens wind turbines built in Hutchinson would power the farm, but she noted the company would use local companies and local labor as much as possible, including gravel for roads and other materials used in construction.
“It will be good for the local economy,” she said.
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