Company announces fourth wind farm in northwest Missouri

Saturday, July 22, 2006

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Atchison County's position as the state's wind farm capital is strengthening as a third company is laying plans for a wind-energy complex in northwest Missouri.

Lenexa, Kan.-based TradeWind Energy told the St. Joseph News-Press that it has obtained leases on 20,000 acres in the county and envisions a wind farm capable of generating up to 400 megawatts, or enough electricity to power 240,000 homes.

Two other wind farms in the county are either under construction or still in the blueprint stage, leasing out more than 50,000 acres and promising the dot the landscape with the towering windmill-driven turbines.

Researchers said the companies come to northwest Missouri because the area features some of the most consistent and strong breezes in the state.

"It's certainly windy enough to generate a lot of energy," said Matt Gillhousen, TradeWind's vice president of operations. "A utility-sized wind farm makes sense."

Gillhousen's group is paying landowners up to $8,000 a year per turbine. Each turbine generates between 1.75 and 3 megawatts, meaning the company could use up to 228 windmills, depending on the type of wind.

TradeWind is still searching for someone to buy the electricity generated by the wind farm, Gillhousen said.

"Getting the power sold is the most challenging piece of it," he said.

The company is partnering with California-based Padoma Wind Energy, whose executives have developed wind farms across the United States. In just the past five years, the company has built 500 megawatts worth of wind farms, including new facilities in Texas and New Mexico.

But TradeWind has focused more on researching where to build its wind farms.

"We've been developing our pipeline of assets over the last five years," Gillhousen said.

Besides TradeWind, Pennsylvania-based Community Wind Energy said it plans to build up to 400 megawatts of wind farm capacity in the area. In Gentry County, Wind Capital Group of St. Louis has begun construction of a 50-megawatt wind farm near King City.

Wind Capital, which plans to sell its electricity to a consortium of rural electric cooperatives, recently said it will build a second, 50-megawatt wind farm between Rock Port and Tarkio in Atchison County.

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