California-based Orion Wind Resources is laying the preliminary groundwork for a new Panhandle wind farm project that would be located in the southwestern corner of Banner County in the near future.
Under the company’s plan, 21 to 58 wind turbines would be constructed to generate 115 megawatts of electricity, with the final number of towers to be determined by the maximum output of the generators selected for use by the company.
Project Development Manager Michael Kurnick tells Rural Radio News Banner County has one of the best wind-energy production profiles in the entire state. “It also has access to transmission lines, there’s Western Area (Power Administration) and Tri-State (Generation) has some lines in the area, and also there’s been an organized wind-energy association in the County,” says Kurnick. “So it’s an interesting site for us to develop to have those three aspects to begin with, and with farming and agricultural use, the low density of houses, it’s sort of the ideal area we would be looking at.”
Banner County Board Chair Robert Post says he’s heard comments both for and against the project, but he believes overall it would have a positive impact. “It’s a benefit to the county, it benefits everybody. The ones who have the turbines, they get a big boost from it but for other folks it’s tax base. I guess we’ll see when we have a hearing, that will tell the tale.”
Kurnick tells us says the company has most of the land lease agreements in place for the project, and a public comment period has opened regarding the environmental assessment on one of two high-voltage transmission lines that would connect the wind farm to facilities owned by WAPA.
He says the first review will likely take 12 months, meaning construction would not start until 2021, with completion by the end of that year, under a best-case scenario.