Liberty Utilities-Empire District has settled on the areas where the utility will build some of its planned wind energy generation turbines.
According to an announcement from the Missouri Public Service Commission, Liberty-Empire is seeking to generate 300 megawatts of energy in Neosho County, Kansas, and another 300 in Jasper, Dade, Barton and Lawrence counties in Missouri.
Up to this point, the company had said that it planned to have the turbines built in the Four-State Area, but had not specified exactly where they could potentially go.
The plan “has always envisioned construction of wind farms on a regional level to minimize potential congestion impacts from a transmission level as well as to invest in our local communities,” said Blake Mertens, vice president of electric operations. “We believe all the projects will lead to local economic benefits for the counties they will be home to.”
The PSC has not given final authorization to the plan, but earlier this year it put the project on the brink of approval. The company plans to pursue an equity partnership that would take advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax incentives to finance roughly half of the project, but the credits expire in 2020.
In August, the PSC denied a request from the Office of Public Counsel to reverse some of the authorizations it has given to the wind plan.
Liberty-Empire’s original proposal called for a $1.5 billion project that would have added hundreds of wind turbines in the region and generate 800 megawatts of wind energy – more than triple its previous levels – and close its coal-fired plant in Asbury more than 15 years early. Through the course of negotiations with regulators, though, the utility agreed to delay the closure of the coal plant and to scale back the targeted production to 600 megawatts.
The Missouri Public Service Commission has set a public hearing on Liberty-Empire’s wind plan for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, at Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall at Missouri Southern State University, 3950 E. Newman Road. Members of the PSC staff will be in attendance for a question-and-answer session before taking on-the-record testimony on the matter from members of the public.
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