The view from Chris Peterson’s home will change drastically this summer. That’s when the giants come – dozens of them, and each nearly twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.
Peterson said Thursday that he is looking forward to their arrival at his parents’ farm in Barton County.
“I rent a house on Highway 126 from my dad, and he’ll have wind turbines across the road from my house,” Peterson said Thursday. “I’m not concerned. I’ve got a motorcycle, and I go on trips all across the country. I’ve been in Kansas, Iowa and Colorado, and I’ve talked to other farmers and landowners who have them on their property and the only problem they’ve had with it is they wish they had more turbines on them.”
Peterson is talking about a group of wind turbines going up this year along Missouri Highway 43 between U.S. Highway 160 and the Nashville community in Southwest Barton County, about 20 miles north of Joplin.
They are part of a 600-megawatt wind project now underway in Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas for Liberty Utilities-Empire District.
The Missouri Public Service Commission approved the project this summer, and construction in Southwest Missouri just launched on the North Fork Ridge Wind Farm, which will consist of 69 wind turbines.
Shane Rooney, senior strategic projects manager at Liberty Utilities, said construction will begin in the next month on the King’s Point Wind Farm, which will include another 69 wind turbines in Jasper, Dade and Lawrence counties, around Golden City.
But don’t expect to see the turbines go up just yet; there’s a lot of preparation that has to be done first.
When finished, each wind turbine will be about 400 feet tall from the ground to the hub of the windmill and about 600 feet tall when the tip of the blade is at its highest point, said Rooney.
The North Fork Ridge and Kings Point farms will generate a total of about 300 megawatts.
Construction began on the utility’s Neosho Ridge Wind Farm in September in Neosho County, Kansas, north of Parsons, where another 139 turbines will be built, generating the other 300 megawatts of electricity. Construction of the foundations for those turbines has started at the Neosho County site, Rooney said.
The project is expected to take about a year. Heavy equipment and workers are moving in on the Missouri side of the line for that part of the project. Work began first on a storage yard (also called a laydown yard) and the concrete batch plants that will provide materials for the projects in a former field.
Rooney said public roads are being upgraded to handle the weight of the material to be delivered, and access roads will be built to the individual turbines.
The laydown yard will include offices for all the subcontractors working on the project, the two portable concrete batch plants that will make the foundations for the turbines, and parking for the approximately 350 workers who will work on the site at peak construction.
As work on the wind farms progress, Liberty also will shut down its coal-fired Asbury Power Plant in northwest Jasper County. It is scheduled to be shut down no later than June 1.
Tenaska, based in Omaha, Nebraska, will develop and manage the Southwest Missouri wind turbines.
Apex Clean Energy, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, will develop and manage the Southeast Kansas wind turbines.
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