Construction of Richardson County wind farm on track

2009-10-12T02:00:00Z Construction of Richardson County wind farm on trackBy ALGIS J. LAUKAITIS / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Construction of the Flat Water Wind Farm south of Humboldt could start later this year or early next.

"We're in the process of doing the engineering work," said Mike Schiller, senior vice president of business development for juwi Wind GmbH, based in Worrstadt, Germany.

Juwi, according to the company's Web site, was founded in 1996. The company has designed, developed and built more than 350 wind turbines, comprising more than 550 megawatts of capacity, at more than 60 locations worldwide.

In July, the Omaha Public Power District signed a 20-year agreement to buy all of the electricity generated by the 60-megawatt wind farm in Richardson County. The output will be enough to serve the annual needs of about 19,000 residential customers, according to the utility.

Juwi responded to OPPD's request for proposals last August for up to 80 megawatts of wind-generated electricity. The Omaha-based utility serves more than 340,000 customers in all or parts of 13 counties in east and southeast Nebraska.

Schiller declined to disclose the cost of developing the wind farm, which will have 40 towers, each about 240 feet high. He said it takes about six months to build a wind farm, and the 1.5 megawatt General Electric turbines should be connected to the grid and up and running by the end of 2010.

The wind farm covers about 4,000 acres. It's located west of U.S. 75 from the Kansas-Nebraska border to just a few miles south of Humboldt, according to OPPD spokesman Jeff Hanson.

When the new wind farm is completed, OPPD will have 95.7 megawatts of wind generation in its system, Hanson said, adding that Flat Water represents a 168 percent boost in the utility's wind power portfolio. OPPD also has 6.4 megawatts of methane generation.

Schiller said the company is working with area landowners through long-term leases.

The wind farm -- the first such project in Richardson County -- will be built using local residents as well as workers from outside the area, Schiller said.

Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at (402) 473-7243 or alaukaitis @journalstar.com.

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