NextEra expects wind project will get final PUC approval early next year
Officials of NextEra Energy expect that their Dodge County Wind project will gain final approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in early 2024 with construction starting in the summer and the project operational by late 2025 or early 2026. Adam Gracia of Dodge County Wind gave members of the Kasson Chamber of Commerce an update at their November meeting.
One more round of public hearings on the project is scheduled for next month in Kasson, he said. The PUC is planning two sessions on December 19 at Saker’s Sports Bar and Grill where the public will be given a final opportunity to express their opinions before the full commission makes its final decision.
“There are lots of steps to get a project done, a lot of public scrutiny,” he said. “Now we are on a good pace to get this permitted.”
The project, which has been in the planning stages for years, will include the construction of 79 wind turbines capable of generating up to 252 MW of electricity. The majority of the turbines will be located in the western portion of Dodge County in the Claremont area, he said, while there will be a few turbines in Steele County. The main challenges to the project, he said, have been with the transmission lines carrying the electricity generated to a substation. Although the original plans were to use a substation in Byron, those plans were changed, and the lines will now go to the Pleasant Valley substation in Mower County. The commission will be considering which of three potential transmission line paths when it makes its decision.
The electricity will be used by the co-operatives that are part of Great River Energy, including Steele-Waseca Co-op which serves a portion of Dodge County.
Gracia again stressed the financial benefits that the project will bring to Dodge County including more than $750,000 in annual tax payments to Dodge County and more than $50 million in direct landowner payments over 30 years. The company anticipates another $200 million in economic activity in the area during construction. In response to an audience question, Gracia said that it will be the money spent in the county during the construction phase that will be the most direct impact on the Kasson business community.
Once construction is completed and the project is operational there will be four to six permanent jobs in the area.