The Nodaway County Commission is moving forward with plans to build a wind farm in south Nodaway County.
Tradewind Energy is in the process of preparing to build a wind farm in the Ernst area called White Cloud. Nodaway County Commissioner Tradewind is one of two wind farms in the process of being approved for an Enhanced Enterprise Zone, which lessens the tax burden.
Executive director of Nodaway County Economic Development Josh McKim is overseeing the EEZ. McKim said the EEZ is a local taxing zone designed to bring in large projects, like the wind farm.
“Tradewinds applied for some of the taxing incentives that came with (the EEZ),” McKim said. “They are still paying taxes, it just sets there (tax) assessment at somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of what their assessed evaluation would be.”
Tradewind Senior Project Manager Reed Bartels said Tradewind looks for a combination of things when choosing a location.
“Locations that are optimal for wind farm development have the right combination of consistent wind, elevation, proximity to high voltage transmission lines, environmental suitability, compatible land use, and landowners willing to host a wind facility on their property,” Bartels said.
Bartels said Nodaway County has many of the factors making the area ideal for a wind farm.
“Situated in one of the windiest parts of the state, Nodaway County has one of the highest wind resources in Missouri, lots of open ground, and multiple existing high voltage transmission lines with the excess capacity to which wind facilities can connect,” Bartels said.
Tradewind has been interested in Nodaway County for the past 10 to 12 years. McKim said during that time multiple economic factors played a role in the development.
“(During) the 10 to 12 year period you saw the great recession take place, you saw some changes at the federal level with wind incentives that they took away and put back in,” McKim said.
Mckim said the federal tax credits are what allows Nodaway County, and even Missouri as a whole, to become viable.
“The stand-alone project may be viable, may be profitable, but it may not be as profitable as another location,” McKim said. “Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas typically have stronger wind patterns. Building out in those areas has made more sense financially.”
McKim said those tax credits allow Nodaway County to be in the wind business.
A big reason why McKim has been pushing for wind farms is the tax money generated.
“There is substantial tax revenue tied to this project,” McKim said. “We’re looking at a bare minimum of $900,000 to three different school districts.”
McKim also stressed that Maryville will not see any of the revenue generated.
“The City of Maryville will not see a dime of the revenue,” McKim said. “It all goes to the county or the school districts or the other taxing entities in the county.”
Feedback has been mostly positive. However, Nodaway County Commissioner Bill Walker said the biggest complaint is the obstructed view the windmills may bring. Walker said the complaints are valid, but there is a significant advantage.
“Well I can understand (the complaints) to a degree, they are kind of big, and they’re out there,” Walker said. “They are going to bring in a lot of tax dollars too.”
Other portions of the funds will go to other taxing entities in that area of Nodaway County.
Another benefit Walker pointed out is the importance and cost-effectiveness of wind energy.
“I think (wind energy is) very important,” Walker said. “Anything we can find to produce energy cheaper is the way to go.”
Walker said the wind farm will require 10 to 15 permanent jobs for maintenance.
Another part of the agreement requires Tradewind to service the road after the completion of construction.
“They are going to tear the roads up some building this because they are bringing in all the heavy equipment,” Walker said. “We got road service agreements that everybody has to sign that they got to bring these roads back up to the same or better condition than when they started.”
Another issue is lifespan. McKim said the windmills will become obsolete in 25 years. The county made sure as part of the agreement, Tradewind must handle the obsolete windmills.
The wind farm should be completed 10 to 12 months after construction begins.