A Kansas-based wind energy company has cleared one hurdle in its request to perform testing in Williams County to determine whether it will pursue the construction of a second wind farm here.
Last week, the Williams County Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval of Trade Wind Energy’s proposal to put up six meteorological towers near the site of Lindahl Wind Farm outside Tioga.
The company must now take the request to the Williams County Commission.
The towers are tall, skinny, take up a relatively small space and can be assembled in less than a day, Brice Barton, senior development director at Trade Wind Energy told the board on Thursday.
He is asking to place 197-foot towers, with a diameter of 8 to 10 inches, across about 65,000 acres in order to measure the feasibility of a second wind energy facility.
“Really the point is to gather the wind data to make sure the wind is there,” Barton said.
He added that the site’s proximity to Lindahl Wind Farm, where wind turbines are still being put in place, makes the company fairly certain that conditions are satisfactory for another facility nearby.
“We’re somewhat confident in the wind resource,” Barton said.
It will take up to a year to collect enough information to determine whether to pursue a second farm.
While the towers won’t necessarily be located where wind turbines could be in the future, the testing poles’ placement helps determine a possible layout.
Further plans, though, will be subject to public hearings and require approval from officials.
“The towers are minimal impact in terms of traffic, you won’t really notice them, but if they proceed to the next level, that’s a whole other series of conversations,” Tate Cymbaluk of the Planning and Zoning Commission said, recalling the at-times contentious process leading up to the approval of Lindahl Wind Farm.
“This step here is so early, it’s way in the beginning stages, it’s the next level which more has more of an impact on the people,” he said.
Power generated from the Lindahl farm is channeled to Basin Electric. Should a second wind farm be given the go-ahead, its energy will be contracted out, Barton said.
If approved, the towers will be placed in South Meadow, Big Meadow, Big Stone, New Home and Golden Valley townships.