The $138-million project will include 44 wind turbines in Jefferson County and 12 in Gage County.
Project manager Paul Dockery says one of the last steps in finalizing approval of the permit was a study showing there would be no scenic view impact on the Homestead National Monument of America.
“The reason we can draw that conclusion is because of the terrain between the Homestead National Monument and the project,” Dockery says. “The Homestead National Monument is about 14 miles away from the nearest turbine and between those locations there is terrain variations such that it blocks the line of sight.”
Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources has now received approval in both counties for special use permits and can now seek construction permits and finalize a decommissioning plan.
The wind towers will be located near Nebraska Highway 8 in southwest Gage and southeast Jefferson. The Steele Flats project will generate electricity to be sold to Nebraska Public Power District and will connect with the district’s Steele City substation.
There are 27 landowners who have agreed to have wind turbines placed on their land. In addition to landowner lease payments, the project over a 30-year period will bring in an estimated $11-million in fees and taxes on each tower base. The estimated annual revenue to Gage County local governments will total about $71,000.
Dockery said NextEra’s first wind farm in Nebraska will not leave damaged roads. He the roads will be left in the same — if not better — condition.
“We do that by doing a video inventory of the project,” Dockery says. “We take representatives from both the county and our personnel and we videorecord the roads beforehand and then at the end of the project, we do a second video inventory.”
The project manager says about 150 construction workers will be involved in the project and the wind farm will have five full-time employees once it is operational by the end of this year.
Dockery says the wind farm will help NPPD reach a target of providing a greater percentage of electricity from renewable sources.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice