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13 wind turbines coming to Franklin County after board approval

FRANKLIN – Up to 100 wind turbines soon will be installed in Franklin and Webster counties.

The Little Blue Wind Project is being developed and permitted by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC. Thirteen of the turbines will be in northeast Franklin County. The project’s final application for a conditional use permit in Franklin County was approved recently by the Franklin County Board of Supervisors.

Construction on the Little Blue Wind Project is expected to start in April and to be completed by December.

NextEra Energy is the largest generator of wind energy in the world and operates 120 wind projects in 19 states and four Canadian provinces. With more than 9,700 wind turbines, the company is capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 3.7 million homes with its wind equipment. The company currently has a wind energy center, Cottonwood, in Webster County with 40 wind turbines.

“(Cottonwood) was successful and welcomed into the community. We thought, ‘Let’s continue to develop there,’” said Sara Cassidy, communications leader for NextEra Energy Resources.

The Franklin County board also approved the initial application for a conditional use permit by Bluestem Energy Solutions for a second commercial wind energy conversion system in Franklin County. Bluestem’s project would consist of two wind turbines.

Zoning regulations were implemented in 2020 for wind energy conversion systems in Franklin County.

“The purpose is for green energy and to cut back on fossil fuels and the carbon footprint,” said Michael Ingram, Franklin County zoning administrator.

Tax benefits for both counties will be $45 million over 30 years. Revenue for Franklin County from the Little Blue Project will be $211,000 per year, and $6.3 million in total tax payments over 30 years. The project also would provide an estimated $60 million in total landowner payments for both counties. The project will create more than 200 jobs during the construction of the wind turbines, as well as the creation of five full-time operation jobs.

The Bluestem project will bring in roughly $30,000 in tax benefits per year for Franklin County.

Cassidy explained that when a wind turbine is decommissioned, they often are recycled or donated to colleges or wind technician programs.

“With the recent advancements in the use of fiberglass, all wind turbine components can be recycled,” she said. “The coolest thing is we take equipment when we go to repower or upgrade, and we like to donate to colleges or programs so they can have hands-on equipment.”