Wind energy continues to gain foothold in Northwest Missouri

Amid the dawn of a new year, wind energy supporters in Northwest Missouri are basking in the momentum of an industry that shows no signs of abatement.

One of those prime examples is a Nodaway County project now under development by Nebraska-based Tenaska. The energy firm plans to build a wind farm there that is anticipated to begin producing power in the next three years.

Eric Chamberlain is one of the region’s residents who has been heavily involved in luring wind power as an alternative to traditional forms of electricity. Chamberlain told News-Press Now he has been working for much of 2017 with Tenaska in blueprinting the Clear Creek Energy Center north of Maryville in Nodaway County.

“Northwest Missouri still offers the very best wind resources found in the entire state, and wind is a growing source of energy nationwide,” he said, crediting other leaders in the area with helping foster the technology.

Chamberlain said the renewed interest in Missouri’s wind projects is due to increased energy production from improved turbine and blade technology.

“The very same size turbines simply produce more energy now than they did in 2008,” he added.

The wind industry is becoming more cost competitive, according to Chamberlain, because of lower turbine costs — and with utilities taking more notice. More wind projects are likely to arrive in Northwest Missouri, he said.

Another advantage is an expanded tax base in area counties, he stated, along with the production of clean, renewable energy.

Tenaska is expressing faith that its plans will come to fruition.

“This region has both good wind resources and a growing need for renewables,” said Monte Ten Kley, the company’s director of strategic development and acquisitions. “We have found the local community to be receptive to wind projects.”

Clear Creek’s construction is currently set for 2019, with commercial operations to commence no later than 2020 and with a targeted lifespan of 30 years.

The American Wind Energy Association also said costs are decreasing, with the number of jobs rising, inside the industry.

“Wind power has proven to be a cash crop for farmers and ranchers, and an economic boon to rural communities,” said Peter Kelley, AWEA’s vice president for public affairs. “We’re grateful to wind power champions in Congress for helping to make sure important language made it into the recent tax reform bill, so this success story can continue.”

Kelley said jobs in the wind industry are now growing nine times faster than the overall U.S. economy.

“We believe utilities and major consumers will keep buying wind energy to lock in low prices and diversify their energy portfolio, making the grid more reliable and resilient,” he added.