Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Farming the wind

 

Tonia Copeland

Kimball's current wind farm will soon be updated with twelve new, more efficient turbines.

Kimball's wind farm, located just northwest of the city, will soon be decommissioned and replaced with 12 new turbines.

2017 marks 15 years of operation for the local wind farm, the first utility-scale project of its kind in the state, according to a recent news release. Increasing maintenance requirements for the aging turbines, and the associated cost of repairs, led the Municipal Energy Alliance of Nebraska (MEAN) to begin looking for green alternatives.

The project, scheduled to begin this summer and is expected to be completed by the end of the year, will replace the seven existing 1.5 megawatt turbines with a dozen efficient 2.5 megawatt ones – totaling 30 megawatts of output, owned by Sandhills Energy of Valentine.

MEAN recently approved a 20 year power purchase agreement with Sandhills Energy for the output from the wind farm.

In addition to new turbines to be erected at the current wind farm site, for Kimball this means an influx of money for the community, according to Kimball Mayor Keith Prunty.

This project, like the former project, will simply allow wind energy generated in Kimball to be sold and distributed to the statewide grid.

"We do buy a certain percentage of our energy from MEAN, as green energy," Prunty added.

City Administrator Dan Dean said that Kimball will negotiate an agreement, with fees, for use of the city-owned 115 kVA line.

"I talked to the owner of Sandhills Energy about a month ago," Prunty said. "They want to use as much local resources as possible."

The company has already worked with Z & S Construction and will be offered contact information for others.

"We are hoping for an eight or nine month boon for the citizens," Prunty said. "I am excited. I think it is going to be a good thing for us this summer, it looks promising."

 

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