County Planning and Zoning administrator Alan Luken says the San Diego, California, based EDF Renewable Energy company is looking to acquire about 16,000 acres for the wind farm. Luken says 75 people turned out this week for a meeting to discuss the project.
“There were questions about spacing — how far will the machines be spread apart. When a boat goes through the water it makes a wake, and when these big wind machines run in the wind, it also makes a wake. These things are engineered, they really have to be spread out. They couldn’t tell the people exactly how far apart they would be. But they do have to be spread out,” Luken says.
Luken says each wind turbine may extend over 1,000 feet in the air, with wind blades at 165 feet long. The company behind the proposed wind turbine farm hopes to generate nearly 200 mega watts of electricity. Luken says the company has to move further ahead in the project to know exactly how much electricity it will generate. The county planning and zoning administrator says they have an ordinance governing wind farms.
“As long as they meet those requirements, then the only process that will go before the county is a conditional use permit that has to be approved by the board of adjustment,” Luken says. “Each individual wind generator will not need a condition use permit, it will be the entire project.” Luken says EDF Renewable Energy will need to obtain a permit from the Federal Energy Commission, and environmental studies based on an eagle count will need to be conducted.
Luken says the wind turbine company is hoping to get long-term contracts with energy companies and landowners. One question that was raised was if the project needed the approval of all involved landowners. Luken says it does not. He says if you have land where you want a wind turbine but your neighbor doesn’t, that’s fine, you will get a tower, but your neighbor will not. Luken says the estimated return to landowners could be as much as $10,000 per tower, per year with a three percent annual increase.
(Reporting by Dennice Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)