Wind project touted as potential economic driver for area cities

Drew Christensen

By Per Peterson

Although the timelines are not set in stone, the City of Tracy will likely be flanked by not one, but two wind farms in the near future.

With plans in the works for a wind farm to be built to the east of town, another clean energy undertaking — Box Car Wind — is in the planning stages to the west, straddling the Lyon-Murray County line.

Drew Christensen, public engagement manager for Apex Clean Energy, said Xcel Energy would be a customer for the power from the proposed project.

“The wind here — in the industry, we call it a ‘screaming wind resource,’” said Christensen. “This is a ‘screaming wind resource’ out here; anybody who’s ever been here is quite aware of that.”

The impetus for the project, Christensen said, is Xcel’s announcement of a new proposed transmission line to transport energy from wind and Xcel-proposed natural gas peaker (power) plants in Lyon County. Apex has done business with Xcel in the past.

All of the Apex facilities are based on voluntary agreements made with landowners. Christensen said the exact location of the wind farm will ultimately be based on where Apex receives the most interest from landowners in its leasing efforts.

“We’ve begun those conversations with landowners and are starting to get more insight as to where the most interest is,” said Christensen. “It’s leading us toward the area between Tracy and Balaton; that’s where we’ve received the most interest.”

The output of the proposed wind farm would be 400 megawatts, which is identical to what is proposed for the wind farm east of Tracy. It would include anywhere between 80-120 turbines. The exact number of turbines depends on a number of factors, Christensen said, including what turbine models are available in the coming years. He said it’s likely that the turbines that will be used on this wind farm haven’t even been invented yet.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.