July 10, 2008

Company Interested in Building Wind Farm in Pana

By Tony Reid, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.

Jul. 10--PANA -- The trade winds of good fortune are blowing through Christian County again, with news of another major wind farm under development.

This time it's a Lenexa, Kan., company called TradeWind Energy, which is looking to build a 100-turbine project on perhaps 14,000 acres of farmland about a mile north of Pana.

"Rolling Farms Wind Project" was announced Wednesday and could feature about 100 360-foot-tall turbines and cost up to $500 million to build. If all goes well, it might be up and running three years from now and would generate enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.

Tax revenue from Rolling Farms is expected to be worth $1.3 million for Christian County and create 150 construction jobs and maybe seven to 12 permanent jobs. Landowners who lease land for the turbines will receive fees for the use of their property and will get a cut of profits generated by the turbines, the combined total worth at least $7,000 a year per turbine.

News of the latest project comes after the Dominion power company, which owns the coal-fired Kincaid power station, announced in April it would like to build the "Prairie Fork Wind Farm" on up to 25,000 acres in Christian and Montgomery counties.

That project could cost $600 million and is now in the testing phase as Dominion compiles detailed data on average wind speeds and environmental conditions.

TradeWind Energy already has embarked on the same process, staging a press conference Wednesday on a farm near Pana that houses a 180-foot-tall meteorological tower that is gathering similar information.

Duane S. Enger, development manager for Rolling Farms, said several similar towers will be erected and automatically will email their information back to company headquarters in Kansas. "Two years of e-mails will give us the financial certainty that if we put turbines in the ground, they are going to use 'X' amount of wind speed and create 'X' amount of energy," Enger said.

"We know that a wind farm here will be economic, and we believe it will be competitive, and that is the key information the data is going to show us. We're excited about this."

TradeWind was attracted to the spot because of the flat, breezy terrain and the close proximity of major power lines to transport the energy. It's also been pleased with the response of local landowners and county and Pana officials, who turned up to show their support Wednesday.

"This came right out of the blue, and we're excited about it," said Pana Mayor, Steven Sipes, 41. "With the price of oil being what it is, Rolling Farms looks like a win-win situation to me."

TradeWind said public meetings in the fall will provide more details about the project.

Tony Reid can be reached at [email protected] or 421-7977.


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