If all goes as planned the landscape of southwest Redwood County could look quite a bit different in a couple of years.
By that time, a project known as Plum Creek Wind Farm could be up and running.
Jordan Burmeister of Geronimo Energy, who is serving as project manger for the proposed Plum Creek Wind Farm project, was in Redwood Falls recently to talk with members of the Redwood County board about the project and its status. The proposed project is being planned for development on land in three different counties, including Redwood, Murray and Cottonwood in the Walnut Grove and Westbrook area.
The plan is to have up to 400 megawatts of electricity generated when all of the turbines are up and running.
According to Burmeister, the number of wind towers that would be erected in the proposed area, that would be on land in North Hero and Lamberton townships in Redwood County, is dependent on the size of the towers themselves.
If, for example, each tower can generate two megawatts that would require 200 towers, while four megawatt towers would mean there would be 100 of them.
“We are currently working with landowners to secure the property we need,” said Burmeister, adding at this point they have approximately half of the land they need. “We will be hosting additional meetings with landowners to explain the project and find people who are willing to work with us.”
As part of that project, the intent would be to run a 345 kilovolt transmission line from the wind farm to a connection with the CapX2020 line to the north.
“At this point that line would probably run along CSAH 10,” said Burmeister, adding further discussions would be conducted with landowners regarding right of way for that line.
Currently, Geronimo Energy officials are working through the permitting process, which Burmeister said takes approximately two years to complete. If all goes according to plan, the wind farm could be built and operating in 2020 or 2021, added Burmeister.
Landowners who agree to have their land used for the wind farm would receive an annual payment, and according to information provided by Geronimo Energy over the initial 20-year life of that wind farm could see $63 million of total payments. Total tax revenue from the wind farm could be in the $36 million range.
According to Burmeister, one of the priorities for Geronimo Energy is support of the communities where it operates, and one of the ways that it does that is through the creation of a community fund.
Each year a certain amount of money, based on the size of the wind farm, would be set aside and then donated to community programs and causes. Burmeister said based on a 400 megawatt project, the area could see funding in the $80,000 range each year.
“We are proud to be able to do that for the communities,” said Burmeister.
Geronimo Energy is a Minnesota-based company, said Burmeister, adding its mission is to help provide low-cost, renewable energy.
During the construction phase of the project the area could see 260-plus jobs created, and Burmeister added when fully operational there could be as many as 18 full-time jobs created.
“We will continue to have meetings to gauge interest,” said Burmeister, adding he is optimistic that the project will be built and will make a significant economic impact on the region.
In total, said Burmeister, the project would mean an investment of $640 million, adding as the project unfolds it is the intent of Geronimo Energy to utilize local business as much as it can.
To learn more about the Plum Creek Wind Farm project or Geronimo Energy, visit www.geronimoenergy.com.