Wind Farm Proposed for Cassia Countyby Associated Press
Idaho Mountain Express - July 24, 2002
BURLEY -- An Idaho company wants to build the state's first commercial wind farm, generating enough power to supply electricity for 40,000 homes.
Windland Inc. officials in Boise said Thursday they will construct the $200 million farm on the windy Cotterel Mountains in southeastern Cassia County. It is expected to generate about 200 megawatts.
It must gain government approval and secure contracts from utility companies before it can finally attract the financing needed to build the 130 windmills 25 stories tall.
Mike Heckler, Windland's marketing director, said plans call for buildings on a 7-square mile area leased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The company hopes to start construction in the spring of 2004 and have the turbines churning by that fall.
Experts regard the Cotterel site as having some of the finest wind potential in Idaho.
"From the looks of it, it's a great project," said Dick Larsen, spokesman for the Energy Division of the Idaho Department of Water Resources.
The division said 72,200 acres in Cassia County have the potential for wind energy. If all that land was developed, it could produce 1,460 megawatts.
One of Windland's two applications before the BLM has been approved, Heckler said. The second cannot be granted until BLM staff completes and environmental review of the proposal, Heckler said.
While the land would be leased from the BLM, the development is taxed by Cassia County. Heckler estimated the project would have an assessed value of more than $100 million.
The project is expected to create several hundred construction jobs in the two years it takes to build it. Then it will require eight to 12 full-time workers to maintain the wind farm.
Although nothing has been signed yet, Heckler said the company has been in informal discussions with a number of utilities about buying its power.
Windland has owned and operated a wind farm near Tehachapi, Calif., since 1982.
Although Idaho has been identified as a top state for potential wind power, there have not been any significant developments yet.
EnXco, a Danish company, has been exploring Idaho's potential and is monitoring a number of sites here.
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