AUDUBON COUNTY – While officials with NextEra Energy wrap up phase 1 of the Heartland Divide wind farm project – a 100 megawatt project including 43 turbines – near Audubon, work is just getting started on phase 2.
Mike Weich, Project Director Development, with NextEra Energy Resources, said Heartland Divide 2 would be the second phase in the project, and work was just getting started.
“(We’re) in the early stages of developing that project,” he said, noting representatives would be starting to work with landowners over the next year to start getting participants for the project.
“Heartland Divide 1 was a 100 megawatts project,” he said, “and our intention is for (phase 2) to be a 200 megawatt project.”
Most of the work on the first phase of the project is complete – he thanked the Audubon Supervisors for their partnership on the project, “We really appreciated that,” he said, but noted there were a few things yet to be done this spring.
Due to weather conditions, reclamation work – at driveways and along roads, would go on this spring. Weich said the company would be working with landowners. “We never leave until the landowner is happy and signs off,” he said.
Work on reclamation is expected to start in March or as soon as weather permits.
“We will make right on that this spring, and that will complete Heartland Divide 1 from a development standpoint,” he said.
The area the new phase will be located in is north of the current phase 1 – in the north part of Audubon County.
While phase 1 included an approximately 19 mile transmission line, phase 2 will have a 40 mile transmission line, going to an existing substation – the Fallow Avenue in Adair.
Weich said the earliest work could begin on the project would be 2021. “We will need to hold a public meeting before they start setting the locations (for the turbines),” he said.
Sarah Watson and Jeannie Maskill will be the land agents working with landowners over the next year, Weich said, out of the NextEra Energy office on Market Street/Highway 71 at Broadway, in Audubon.
The first phase of the project, at 100 megawatts, included 43 wind turbines and phase 2 would be 200 megawatts – but not necessarily two times the original turbines.
Weich explained that each year, new turbines “get more efficient, and can produce more (energy) so we will have more turbines, but not necessarily double the number.”
He said the number and make of the turbines had not been decided yet, or the exact locations, “We are so early in the process, we don’t know exactly where the turbines will go, we don’t know exactly where the facilities will go, but our intention is to use the maintenance facilities for the second phase.”
There is also no customer for the second phase of the project yet, Weich said.
One hundred percent of the power generated from phase 1 is purchased by Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) and Weich said a lot of the details on phase 2 were still unknown until a customer is located.
“The customer part of this drive drives the project,” he said, adding that he would come back to talk with the supervisors “as soon as we get more interest from customers and landowners.”
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