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Wind farm planned for northwest Boone County

E.ON Climate & Renewables is looking to develop a wind farm that will potentially encompass up to 20,000 acres near Harrisburg in northwestern Boone County.

The company has invited landowners it has identified as being in the target project area to learn more about the project during a barbecue dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. March 13 at the Harrisburg Lions Club.

The dinner was announced in a letter sent last Friday to landowners that have “promising property in the project area.”

Preston Weigel, wind development manager for EC&R, said the wind farm would generate 150 megawatts of electricity. He was unable to say how many turbines would be used.

The exact target location of the wind farm remains confidential for now, Weigel said, and maps are still being developed for the March presentation. The letter sent to landowners said multiple maps will be available at the dinner.

The owners of land comprising 2,500 acres have already joined the project, the letter stated.

ER&C and each landowner would enter into seven-year leases for use of the land, Weigel said.

The company has been operating a meteorological tower near Route J and Callahan Creek Road for the past six months to gather data on wind conditions. The Boone County Commission granted a permit for the tower on July 31, and the tower was the subject of a public hearing before the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission earlier that month.

The company plans to erect another tower in the project area soon, Weigel said.

Stan Shawver, resource management director for the county, said a change in zoning regulations would be necessary to accommodate a wind farm because they currently aren’t listed as permissible uses in industrial districts.

Smaller wind turbines for those who want to generate their own power are permissible, Shawver said. Those turbines typically are 20 to 35 feet tall, while industrial wind turbines are 200 to 500 feet tall.

Weigel said EC&R has no customers lined up yet to buy the electricity, but he said there is demand for energy in the area.

Friday’s letter said the company wants to offer this opportunity to “all landowners, large and small, to join and profit.”

Ashley Ernst, who lives on McQuitty Lane in rural Harrisburg, was among those who received the letter. She said it was the first she had heard of the project, and “when we talked to my neighbors today they were not aware of it, either.”

Ernst said she talked to Northern District Commissioner Janet Thompson, who was unaware of the letter and did not know that EC&R was moving forward with its plans.

Ernst added that she knows of one property owner seven miles west of her, on the edge of Boone County, who also received the letter.

EC&R operates wind farms in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana and New York.

“EC&R is one of the most active renewable energy companies in the world, now with 23 operating wind farms exceeding 34,600 MW of capacity in the United States,” the company said in its letter.

There are two major wind farms in Missouri thus far. One is the Rock Creek Wind Farm in Atchison County operated by Tradewind Energy. It spans 30,000 acres and has contracts with more than 100 landowners. It has 150 turbines and generates 300 megawatts of electricity. Its customer is Kansas City Power and Light.

The other is the Lost Creek Wind Farm operated by Pattern Energy in Dekalb County. It spans 32,000 acres and has 100 turbines generating 150 megawatts of energy. It sells the power to Associated Electric Cooperative.