This summer our little town of Blue Hill got some major upgrades near by. The state energy board approved a $140 Million wind farm.
The Cottonwood Wind Project plans to have 52 turbines and a capacity to generate 89.5 megawatts of power.
Funded by NextEra Energy Resources, the nation’s biggest wind developer, the project will produce about $800,000 a year in lease payments to 35 landowners and about $864,000 a year in local taxes. They project a 7% increase in tax revenue for Webster county. It will also create five permanent, full-time jobs, and about 300 temporary jobs during their construction.
The Nebraska Power Review Board approved the project on the condition that it sign a power purchase agreement with them. It is expected to be signed by the end of the year. NPPD is currently in the process of lining up industrial and manufacturing customers that are seeking to use nature friendly energy resources. Those companies will be contracted for “renewable energy credits” to cover most of the wind farm’s generation.
At least two companies have expressed interest in buying about 65 megawatts of credits through the Blue Hill project. It’s also possible that the project will help attract a new company to Nebraska seeking to use green energy and lock in a good price for electricity through a 15-year contract. Since the developer purchased equipment prior to January 1st, the project will qualify for federal energy production tax credits.
Mrs. Bonifas, Blue Hill Teacher, speaks her mind about the wind turbines, “In many ways I think they are a good addition because of the power that we can generate without coal, and the revenue that can be generated for our school and for landowners.”
She goes on to say ”I don’t like the fact that they are permanent, so at this point there is no changing of anyone’s mind whether they want them or not.I think there are many pros and cons to the windmills, but the truth is that we as a society use a lot of power, and as the population continues to grow, and we continue to use more power, we have to prepare ourselves for new ideas in alternative sources of power and fuel.”
The new additions south of Blue Hill have already caused controversy and debate, but they will provide benefits to the community for years to come.