Saturday, March 4, 2017
Does Saline County Really Want To Become A Giant Wind Farm?
Does Saline County really want to become one big wind farm? Especially when little if any of the electricity generated from the turbines would be used by Nebraskans?
Those questions haven't been put before the people of the county, but it seems efforts to put up hundreds of turbines are moving ahead quickly before federal wind subsidies approved in the Obama years run dry.
The average citizen has been kept in the dark. For now, the questions will be answered by the Saline County Commissioners and the county's planning and zoning board, which is administered by Dorchester's own Lyle Weber.
The Friend Sentinel reports that Apex Clean Energy out of Virginia is working on a wind farm split between Saline and Fillmore counties with an expected completion date in early 2019.
This news comes after last month's report that two Saline County wind farms were planned by a big company out of Texas.
Here is the Sentinel's March 1 report:
Dylan Ikkala, the project developer, said the Conhusker Harvest Wind project is still in the early stages of development.
“We are actively leasing land within the project boundary,” he said in an e-mail, “and are beginning to coordinate the necessary studies and permitting that will be needed before the project can be constructed.”
So far the company has installed two meteorological towers, one in each county, to gather information on the area’s wind resources.
Apex is currently still leasing the land it needs for the project. The project, Ikkala said, will require 25,000 to 30,000 acres of land. So far, the company has leased about a quarter of the land needed.
Despite the fact that each wind turbine takes up relatively little room, Ikkala said it’s important for the company to have plenty of room to place the turbines.
“The footprint of each turbine occupies less than half an acre,” he said, “but the large project area allows us to design a more productive turbine layout.”
The wind farm itself, Ikkala said, will have 130 turbines producing 300 megawatts, providing enough power for 110,000 homes. It’s also expected to create temporary construction jobs as the turbines go up and 10 permanent local jobs after construction is completed.
Ikkala said that, historically, wind farms have been mostly located on the coasts. In recent years, more companies have tried to tap the wind resources in the center of the country. Apex itself mostly operates in Texas and Oklahoma and is looking to expand into relatively undeveloped wind energy opportunities in the Midwest.
“Nebraska currently is ranked fourth in the nation for overall wind power potential,” he said, “but only 20th for installed wind capacity.”
Saline and Fillmore counties, he said, have unusually strong winds for eastern Nebraska.
“It’s not as strong as out west,” he said, “but for the southeast part of the state, it’s very strong. “This is the new frontier for wind development.”