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EDF touts wind benefits

By Staff | Mar 18, 2018

Last Tuesday, EDF Renewable Energy representative Jake Salisbury updated the Winnebago City Council on the upcoming Oza Tanka Wind Project which will be affecting their area.

Regions of Prescott, Barber, and Walnut Lake townships will all be included in the wind farm project. Salisbury indicated Barber Township would be at the center of the projects, while Walnut Lake falls on the far east side of the construction plans.

The 200-megawatt wind farm will consist of approximately 80 wind turbines, and would likely be completed by 2021. Salisbury mentioned the wind power group is in the midst of pursuing land leases for their large scale project.

Upcoming environmental and wind resource studies, as well as biological surveys are also on the horizon for EDF.

Salisbury also cited possible economic developments opportunities for Winnebago as a result of the wind power project. EDF estimates Faribault County will be able to generate $800,000 annually from the project’s production tax.

Additionally, Salisbury said EDF spends an average of $10 million during construction. He added that these funds have a positive impact on local communities where construction is taking place.

“Winnebago is really one of the larger towns in the area, so I think this community has a higher chance to thrive with the amenities we have here,” Salisbury explained. “We typically bring about 250 to 300 workers to build these projects, so that’s going to be people needing to buy your food and gas.”

During the meeting, Salisbury also addressed growing concerns from residents who are opposed to the power project. The land acquisition specialist said he thinks there is a silent majority of residents who support the project.

“I think some are a little nervous about coming out and expressing that they do want it,” Salisbury said. “Dealing with the opposition is just a matter of respect because they have an opinion that is also valued.”

Other items from the meeting included:

CEO of United Hospital District Rick Ash updated the council on the state of rural healthcare in the area. Ash said he was pleased with the overall growth of UHD’s expanded roster of medical specialists, as well as the upgrades in facility equipment.

“We’re continually looking at growing. We’ve spent a significant amount of dollars on upgrading equipment and getting our facility current to make sure we remain competitive.”

The council accepted a special ordinance to create and dedicate a new city street to be named Seventh Avenue SW. Dollar General, which donated the land to the city, has paid for the engineering and improvements to the street, which can now provide an adequate entrance to the store from Highway 169.

In a 2-1 vote, the council passed a motion to apply for a Public Facility Authority (PFA) loan from the Clean Water Revolving Fund in the estimated amount of $6,222,000.

The funds from the loan application would be used for improvements to the city’s drinking water, municipal wastewater collection, and storm water systems. Meanwhile, council member Rick Johnson opposed the loan application, citing rising taxes as a main concern.

“I disagree with it until we figure out how we’re going to pay the bill. To drop this on the very few taxpayers we have, not knowing how this is going to work, I can’t support this,” Johnson explained.

At the recommendation of the Utility Committee, the council approved the existing street sweeping policy.