Monday, September 22, 2014
   
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Meteorological tower to be erected soon

Energy company to monitor wind, collect other data.

Tangible evidence of a wind farm south of Gothenburg and Cozad is expected the end of the month.

A meteorological tower to track wind speed and other data will be erected in a remote location five miles east and two miles north of Farnam.

Kyle Simmons, lead developer for Geronimo Wind Energy, shared that information Thursday night in Eustis as the wind gusted more than 60 mph.

Property owners whose land is in the path of the Dawson Wind Farm were invited to the meeting.

During an interview Friday, Simmons said the tower will be in the heart of the project’s footprint which is seven miles wide—between Cozad and Gothenburg—and two miles deep.

The 197-foot tower, secured by guy wires, is solar powered and will transmit wireless data through a cellular network, he said.

In addition to collecting wind speed and direction at various heights, he said barometric pressure and temperature will also be measured.

Before wind turbines can be erected in the area, Simmons said the number of avian species that could be affected will be counted by wildlife specialists.

However a special device that counts bats will be installed on the tower since the nocturnal species is difficult to see when active.

Simmons said bird count information will also be studied by computers such as tracking migratory paths of bald eagles.

Data will be collected for at least a year.

Geronimo officials continue to search for a company that will buy the wind power generated by the farm.

“We hope to work with a local provider,” Simmons said.

The company must also tie the energy it produces to a transmission grid, he said, which would most likely be through Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (MISO).

Simmons said MISO oversees the grid and companies that use it in the midwest region.

“But it takes years to get on the grid,” he noted.

Another option, he said, is to partner with a power plant already on the grid.

For example, Geronimo could partner with a natural gas plant that operates during peak times, which would allow the company to put its wind-generated power on the grid during non-peak hours.

“There’s still so much to do to insure it’s a viable and economical project,” Simmons said, noting that the company hopes to build the farm within the next two to four years.

Last month, the Edina, MN-based company, received a special use permit from the Dawson County Commissioners to construct the test tower.

Officials announced plans last November to build the $150-$200 million farm along the southern edge of Dawson County.

The company has lease agreements from about 40 landowners that involves 14,000 acres.

Simmons said Geronimo hopes to obtain agreements for 19,000 acres.

Once built, the farm will produce 100 megawatts of power.

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