Are property values negatively affected?
Multiple studies have found wind farms have no significant long-term impacts on property values. The most wide-reaching study (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, 2013), looked at more than 50,000 home sales among 27 counties in nine states found no statistical evidence that home prices near wind farms were affected by the wind farm. Wind energy projects drive economic development, job growth and tax revenue to their host communities, which benefits landowners and land values in the area.
During operation the project will contribute approximately $50 MM to landowners, ensuring that property can stay within the family for generations to come.
What happens to the project when the tax credits expire?
The expiration of federal tax credits will not impact the operation of this project. Before we construct a wind farm, we identify a utility, municipality or company to purchase the energy the wind farm would generate. We then enter into long-term contract with that customer – typically 20-30 years. Such a contract provides a stable and predictable market for the project that extends well beyond the expiration of current federal tax credits.
Are you still allowed to hunt on your property?
Yes. NextEra Energy Resources is committed to providing clean, renewable wind energy while conserving the ecological, cultural and recreational character of the existing area where projects are built. Only 1-2% of the total leased land is typically needed for final project infrastructure including turbine pads, roads, substations, electrical collection and transmission. The vast majority of the land utilized for our wind sites continue to support habitat for wildlife, ongoing agricultural and ranching activities and outdoor recreational activities such as hunting, fishing and camping. In the majority of cases, we obtain long-term leases from landowners, rather than purchasing the land for development. An owner may allow guests to use their property for recreational purposes; however they must take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of their visitors.
Our staff coordinates with landowners and local stakeholders to avoid unnecessary interference with or disturbance to nature lovers and other outdoor recreational sport users of the land. For example, at our Callahan Divide and Horse Hollow Wind sites in Texas, notifications are made by the land owners to the Facility Manger who shares them with the staff of the wind farm. If hunters or fishermen at a particular part of a project site are known to be out in the early weekend morning hours, our team will schedule any necessary project-related activities outside of those prime recreational times, so as to minimize disruption.
How are cattle affected by the turbines?
Wind farms are not only compatible with farming and ranching - it is fast becoming an important component of farm viability in many areas around the globe. At a time when the farming community faces increased uncertainty about the future, investment in wind energy is one way rural residents have diversified their business model and secured a new reliable income source.
Farm animals can graze immediately below a wind turbine, because even at the bottom of its swing, the rotor blade is generally more than 100 feet above the ground. Wind energy does not require any water during operations. Landowners who participate in our other Kansas projects have found that the wind farms are compatible with their livestock operations and that cattle are unaffected by the turbines.
Wind turbine footprint? Turbine setback? Transmission line setback?
NextEra Energy Resources is committed to meeting or exceeding all the regulatory requirements and working with the community to ensure we select the most appropriate sites for generating wind energy.
The ultimate objectives of choosing a site are to make certain there is minimal impact to the environment and community and – only when this is ensured – identify areas with the best potential to generate energy from wind.
A typical turbine site takes about a 50 x 50 foot graveled area. For this project, we will site the turbines at least 1400 feet from any homes or businesses, which is consistent with our company and industry best practices and exceeds the setbacks recommended by the turbine manufacturer. Transmission lines are typically 120-130 feet tall, with setbacks one-and-a-half times their height.
How does the company deal with eagles and other wildlife?
Protecting wildlife and sensitive natural habitats is a priority for NextEra Energy Resources. No form of energy is free from environmental impact; however, wind energy has among the lowest impact as it emits no air or water pollution, requires no drilling or mining for fuel, and creates no hazardous waste. As part of its development process, NextEra Energy Resources conducts thorough wildlife studies to ensure each site complies with all local, state and federal environmental regulations.
We follow industry best practices and work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies to site wind turbines responsibly. We use information from nearby wind sites as well as a minimum of a year’s worth of data gathered from local environmental studies to appropriately site the turbines with respect to avian flight paths and the presence local wildlife.
We work to avoid impacts to wetlands that may provide habitat for migratory birds and use buffers to avoid impact to nesting birds. NextEra Energy Resources conducts monitoring for potential wildlife impacts at each site following construction. When properly sited, wind turbines pose less danger to birds than other common structures such as buildings or roads.
Are roads built on private property?
NextEra Energy Resources invests in infrastructure in the communities where we develop wind farms. As part of our construction process, we put in high-quality gravel roads to accommodate our heavy equipment. These roads are built on property owned by landowners who choose to participate in the project. We work with landowners to ensure we design access roads that complement existing farming or ranching operations. A typical access road for a wind farm is 32 feet in width during construction and 16 feet once the facility is in operation.
NextEra Energy Resources pays for the roadwork, which serves as a permanent infrastructure enhancement to the local community, leaving roads in as good or better condition than when we begin a project.
Over the past decade, we have enhanced, improved or rehabilitated more than 2,300 miles of roads as part of our development of wind projects in the U.S. and Canada.
What happens to the roads during construction and after completion of the project?
Once approved for construction, wind farms can be built quite quickly in comparison to other types of power-generating facilities. Generally speaking, we anticipate a construction period of approximately six to nine months. Determining when construction begins depends upon the completion of lease agreements and permitting. We are respectful of our neighbors and we work with the community to achieve the best results for all involved.
You can expect to see heavy equipment including bulldozers, graders, trenching machines, concrete trucks, flatbed trucks and cranes. NextEra Energy Resources would upgrade the local roads prior to construction to allow for the access of heavy equipment. The roads will be maintained during construction. Those upgrades would remain and the road would be maintained following construction.
We are committed to avoiding unnecessary disturbance of local residents by planning construction during daytime hours and ensuring operations are planned to minimize interference with key activities such as planting or harvesting.
Transmission line eminent domain?
The project will not have eminent domain and will only site the transmission line on land owned by a participating landowner.
What jobs will be created during construction? During operation?
The project will create an estimated 250 direct jobs during development and construction. Our goal is to hire as many workers as possible from the local area where we construct our wind projects. Our projects also create opportunities for local companies and contractors to participate in the construction, including but not limited to: gravel and cement supply, truck drivers, mechanics, professional, legal, services, retail, etc.
In addition to creating jobs, improving roads and contributing significantly to the local tax base, wind farms provide indirect income to local businesses, including hotels, caterers and office supply companies.
Prior to construction there will be a job fair for local professionals such as electricians or those with a background in energy or construction.
During operation, the project will create 15 – 20 good-paying, full-time jobs. These include wind technicians, managers and administrative support roles. Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics named “wind technician” among the fastest growing jobs in America.
When a project is built, will there be local representation that can be contacted with questions and/or concerns?
In Reno County, the project will have two on-site managers who will be able to assist with local questions and concerns. NextEra Energy Resources has invested in Kansas since 2001. We have six operational wind farms here, and employees across the state who can be readily available as needed.