By Barry Dalton
VANDALIA—Tenaska, the Omaha company developing a 200- to 400-megawatt wind farm in Audrain and Ralls counties, said that it has met its initial land acquisition requirements to establish project viability but that more work needs to be done before construction can begin.
“We will continue working with landowners over the next 12-18 months to acquire the remaining land necessary to build the project,” said Monte Ten Kley, the director of the project. “We have begun conducting the engineering and environmental studies, which help us determine where wind turbines can be located or whether additional land is required.”
“All of these pieces need to fall into place before construction can start,” Ten Kley explained. “On our current timeline, we anticipate construction could start as early as fall of 2022.”
In addition to generating renewable energy, an Audrain/Ralls wind farm is estimated to generate millions in tax revenue and provide millions to landowners. Ten Kley says that it will also create well-paying jobs and economic opportunities for local businesses.
“We are in the process of commissioning an economic impact study to quantify these benefits,” Ten Kley said.
As a comparison, Ten Kley points to the 242-megawatt Tenaska Clear Creek Energy Center that became operational in May 2020 in northwest Missouri. He says it resulted in 350 craft workers hired, many from the local area, and approximately $30 million in contracts awarded to regional businesses.
“We have received a warm welcome in Audrain County,” Ten Kley said. “While we have more work to do, we remain very optimistic about this project and are excited to bring these benefits to Audrain County.”
The wind farm would be located near the Audrain-Ralls county line and would comprise 70 to 150 wind turbines. Tenaska is also acquiring land for a similar project in nearby Knox County.
Participation in the project is voluntary; the company does not have the right of eminent domain.
Senior Land Agents Barry Burkhart and George Kramer in Tenaska’s local office at 610 W. Hwy. 54, Vandalia. Photo by Barry Dalton