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Open house held for proposed wind farm

Northeast Missouri residents crowded into the Schuyler County School District multipurpose room Tuesday, anxious to learn about a proposed wind farm that project leaders say would be transformative for local communities.

The High Prairie Wind Farm is a 400-megawatt wind farm proposed for Schuyler and Adair counties. The project calls for 175 turbines to be constructed by an affiliate of Terra-Gen, LLC.

The project will have the capacity to power 120,000 homes.

Once complete, the wind farm will be acquired by Ameren Missouri as part of the company’s objective to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Tuesday was about presenting information to the public and handling questions and concerns, said Bob Bergstrom, Terra-Gen principal consultant. Along with free food and prize giveaways, the company had a series of experts on hand to speak on the wind resource, environmental impact, economic impact and more.

“My hope is that people come out of here knowing a lot more about this wind farm and decide that this is a great thing for this community,” Bergstrom said.

Terra-Gen has already obtained assents from the county commissions in both Adair and Schuyler. The company will reimburse the counties for their oversight on the process, conduct surveys of road conditions, and later repair and replace roads and bridges that suffer damage from the equipment during the construction process

“A lot of people in the community don’t understand that they’ve been protected by their commissioners,” Bergstrom said. “You’ve got some commissioners that ask some tough questions. They’re not rollovers. On the other hand, they welcome and they recognize what this is.”

Work on the project has been ongoing for the last few years, as the company met with landowners to secure property needed for the project.

“This has been a great community to be doing business in,” Bergstrom said. “They’ve been open, the commissioners have been good, K-REDI has been good. All of these people have been excellent. It’s a great spot to do business.”

Previous studies have indicated the project would have a $600 million capital investment, including $80 million in royalty payments to landowners, $50 million in tax revenue and $20 million in payroll. A St. Louis consulting firm said Schuyler and Adair counties could see 439 jobs and $19 million in benefits during construction, and 80 jobs and $116 million in benefits during the operating years.

“It’s going to be transformational for these two counties,” Bergstrom said.

Where previous wind farm projects ended in the discussion phase, Bergstrom said this effort is primed for success thanks to four factors. Two of them are having a reliable wind resource and willing landowners.

The others are having a market – Ameren Missouri – and transmission capacity. Construction of the Mark Twain Transmission Line makes the project possible.

“Once they straightened out the ATXI stuff, that’s the 16-lane highway. We can put this much energy on it,” Bergstrom said.

Ameren Missouri filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission for a certificate of convenience and necessity. The case number is EA-2018-0202.

Groundbreaking on the project is anticipated in the summer of 2019.