Harvey County could be site of wind farm

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Garrett Smith of Pratt lifts tool bags into the nacelle of a Siemens Gamesa 2.3 megawatt wind turbine in the Pratt Wind Energy Center, which came online in 2019.

A wind energy farm could be coming to Harvey County — though the project is, at this time, in its very early stages. 

Fiona Bagwell. Renewable energy officer for NextEra Energy, approached the Harvey County Commission on Tuesday to inform them the company is beginning analysis of Harvey County. 

"We are looking at an opportunity for a wind project in Harvey County," Bagwell said. 

The size, scope and location of the project are not known. 

"Wind and solar projects of this size take several years to develop," Bagwell said.

At this time the company is doing "desktop analysis" — trying to determine what land will be most conclusive to development. There is not a specific targeted area for development at this time. 

The company is expected to begin land acquisition next year, a process that takes about one year to complete. 

We usually work with every landowner, whether they prefer a sale or a lease," Bagwelll said. "... Wind farms are compatible with farming and ranching. ... [A turbine] takes only about one acre out of production. It is a great way for a farmer to diversify."

Bagwell said most properties are leased. Following land acquisition, the company will go through a permitting process — working with county planning and zoning to get all needed permits.

"We follow local, state and federal regulations," Bagwell said. 

Construction is, at least, three years away. If the project is constructed, it will take between six and nine months to complete. 

NextEra has constructed wind farms in Kingman, Pratt . Ellis, Marshall and Nemaha counties. 

In 2019 the company finished  the Pratt Wind Energy Center in the southwest part of Pratt County. Ninety-eight Siemens Gamesa turbines and eight GE turbines, capable of generating 245 megawatts of electricity that can power 73,500 homes per year were put  in place. The rotor diameter of the Siemens Gamesa turbines is 108 meters. Each turbine weighs approximately 633,707 pounds.

Construction on the wind project lasted approximately seven months and was completed in November 2018. During construction, the project created 250 construction jobs. With   the wind farm is operational, 12 full-time jobs are required for daily maintenance.

Only one wind technician, Garrett Smith, is a Pratt resident working for Pratt Wind Energy Center. Wind technicians perform maintenance on wind turbines to ensure that all turbines are functioning at maximum efficiency.

All of the power from the Pratt wind project is being sold to Great Plains Energy Incorporated, a holding company based in Kansas City, Missouri that owns electric utility Kansas City Power and Light Company and Strategic Energy, LLC, an energy management company.

Pratt Wind Energy Center, is considered a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, operator of seven Kansas wind projects and the world’s largest operator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun, according to Kennedy.

— The Pratt Tribune contributed to this report