Dodge County Wind Project Draws Close to Start of Wind Farm Construction – Austin Daily Herald


A wind farm project in Dodge and Steele counties that stalled a bit in 2019 is back on track.

The Dodge County Wind Project (DCWP) is overdue in permitting phases for construction in the spring of 2023.

“The communities of Dodge and Steele, as well as Mower County, are very good communities and understand that the benefits that projects bring to communities are increasing,” said Mark Lennonx, Renewable Energy Development Project Director for the DCWP in an update on the project Thursday. “Over a 30-year lifespan, it will use $ 55 million in direct payments to landowners. “

The project, which is expected to be located in an area south of Claremont and north of Blooming Prairie and Hayfield, will consist of 79 wind turbines capable of generating 259 megawatts of energy.

“It’s always easier to think of megawatts in the number of homes,” Lennox said. “We estimate that’s about enough energy to power 70,000 homes.

The turbines will be larger than existing turbines in the region, with a height of 500 to 550 feet. These taller turbines will produce more electricity using fewer towers.

The DCWP, which belongs to NextEra Energy Resources, is a continuation of a project that started in 2014. As the project progressed and NextEra reached the authorization stage in 2019, a blockage the cost of connecting to the existing network has become much higher than expected.

“The cost of energy delivered to customers is higher than what we wanted it to be,” Lennox said. “It didn’t make sense, so we went back to the drawing board.”

This was a pivotal moment as NextEra was ready to begin construction in 2020. However, a partnership with Great River Energy enabled an innovative way to connect to the grid via existing resources.

“We had a lot of confidence to move forward,” said Lennox.

According to the project’s website, it is estimated that over the 30-year lifespan of the DCWP, $ 83 million in payments to landowners and $ 39 million in tax revenue will be generated, along with nearly 400 jobs. .

To help integrate the project further into these communities, Lennox said NextEra, through DCWP, is working to build strong relationships within communities.

For Lennox, being part of the community is a necessary step.

“It’s incredibly important,” he said. “One of our driving values ​​is making sure that we conduct ourselves with integrity in communities and that they recognize that integrity. Universally, we agree to be safe and efficient in bringing clean, renewable energy to the community. “

“Once we have completed the authorization process and obtained the appropriate approvals, there will be well-paying construction jobs that this will bring,” said Sara Cassidy, communications manager for NextEra. “They will eat in restaurants, sleep in hotels, shop in stores.”

Lennox said NextEra expects a period of around 12 to 15 months for the state’s review of the project, including public meetings to engage stakeholders. If all goes according to plan and the permit is issued, then construction will begin in 2023 and take about six months, according to Lennox.

Lennox and Cassidy both said there are plenty of opportunities to engage with the project and encourage people to look into the DCWP.

“We have a project Facebook page and a website where they can check this out,” Cassidy said. “It is possible to stay informed through a newsletter. We are certainly here to answer questions. We have a great team in Minneota and we need the support of the local communities. “

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