Wind energy to serve growing needs in Missouri
October 28, 2006
Skepticism about wind energy in Missouri was blown away October 20, 2006, when legislators toured construction of the state’s first wind farm and developers announced that a third utility-scale wind farm will be built and operating near by town of Conception in Nodaway County in northwest Missouri by the end of 2007. About 20 Nodaway County landowners are involved in the Conception project, which will span more than 7,000 acres. They will receive annual lease payments for hosting turbines, and the county will benefit from an expanded tax base and job creation.

“For the longest time, this wind farm existed in my head, on the piles on my desk, as a file on my computer and in the faces of the landowners, engineers and consultants,” said developer Tom Carnahan, president of Wind Capital Group.

Today, it’s real due to the collaboration of Wind Capital Group, John Deere Wind Energy and Missouri’s rural electric cooperatives, Carnahan said. “If anyone doubts wind power is real and going to happen, put that thought to rest today. John Deere and Missouri’s electric cooperatives are transforming rural America again, and for the better.”

“We have the potential to make a difference,” said David Drescher, vice president of John Deere Wind Energy, a unit of Deere & Co. providing debt and equity investment and co-development services for the three wind farms in northwest Missouri. “Wind projects develop the economic value in rural Missouri and take advantage of a renewable resource that’s free,” he said. “It makes good environmental and economic sense for the landowners and for energy independence.”

Praised for voluntarily becoming Missouri’s leader in renewable energy, Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. will purchase the electricity from the wind farms and distribute it through its network of regional and local rural electric cooperatives that serve more than 630,000 farms, homes and businesses in Missouri.

Missouri’s rural electric cooperatives are growing and need more energy – about 100 megawatts more each year, said O.B. Clark, president, Associated Electric Cooperative. “Wind energy is reliable and economical, and we need diverse energy resources,” he said.

Twenty-seven turbines are expected to be operational by year-end. Construction on the second wind farm, the Cow Branch Wind Energy Project in Atchison County, will start next year with projected completion like the third project by year-end 2007. The $75 million project will consist of 24 Suzlon 2.1-MW turbines.

Combined, the three wind farms could produce more than 150 MW. That’s enough power for about 45,000 homes.

Carnahan said more projects could be in the works. “This is not an impossible dream,” he said. “I’ve never seen an issue with this potential to unify people--to get people in business and government to work together.”

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