NextEra Energy gives update on Sholes project

A recent call to Phil Clement, project manager of the Sholes Wind Energy Center, led to an update on the project as a whole.

The project, a large 160 megawatt facility, will be constructed in rural Wayne County west of Carroll near the village of Sholes. With a capital cost of over $250 million, the wind center is set to bring in approximately $30 million in property taxes over the first 30 years. 

Landowners will be paid an estimated $40 million over that same first 30 years and NextEra estimates between 6 and 10 full time operations jobs will become available with the completion of the wind facility.

When Clement and two others visited the Wayne County Board of Commissioners a few months ago, the room was packed full of county residents wanting to know what NextEra's plan was -- something the company representatives gladly discussed, answering numerous questions and taking down their own notes.

In that meeting, mid-October was the hopeful time frame to have all land leases signed and be ready for the next phase.

According to Clement, that schedule hasn't changed much at all, with what he said was over 95 percent of what's needed being complete.

"We're essentially done," Clement said of the lease agreement phase. "We've been working with the commissioners giving information in general and on this project and the company."

At this point, Clement said, NextEra simply wants to put as much information as possible out to the public, which is why they have an email address that was given to the commissioners for the public to use. Any questions anyone has can be directed to that email address which will be going to Clement and others to be answered.

Right now, Clement said the company is working hard on surveying on the possible turbine locations to ensure there aren't any unknowns underground.

Along with that, Clement said that the project is working through the process with the county and many other entities such as the Department of Transportation and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission on permitting and permissions and things like environmental impact studies.

"They say measure twice, cut once," Clement said with a laugh. "We're making sure everything is going well."

Construction won't begin until at least spring of 2018, but tentatively, the company hopes to start construction by June 2018 and then be operational by the end of 2018 barring any complications or necessary changes. 

With the hard part winding down, Clement said the company is looking forward to the future.

"The reception has been great. Wayne County has been great to work with," he said. "We are looking forward to working in Wayne County."

NextEra Energy is the largest generator of wind energy in the world, operating more than 115 wind projects across 20 states and four Canadian provinces. The company is capable of generating power to more than 3.7 million homes with its own facilities.

The Wayne Herald

Mailing Address:
114 Main Street
Wayne, NE 68787
Phone: 402-375-2600

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