The Thayer County wind project is proceeding as planned and received some good news from the Met Tower data collected so far, said Gary Aksamit, the project coordinator. In addition, other wind projects around the state are viewing the Thayer County Model of land owner participation as a favorable way to develop a wind project.
“The met tower has demonstrated what I always expected to see from the wind data. Thayer County has a valuable wind asset,” Aksamit said. “Our 18 months of Met Tower data came in and it was above the estimates we thought we would have. That means the efficiencies of wind turbines in our area is even better than we had hoped, and it means more electricity can be generated from the turbines we would have,” Aksamit said.
The Met Tower, located four miles east of Highway 81 on the south side of Road Q, or more familiarly Monument Road, has been collecting wind data since it was constructed in August of 2010. The data is collected constantly and provides information on wind speeds at all hours of the day and night. Wind developers use this information to determine how much electricity can be produced by a wind turbine, and the wind speed also affects the cost of generating electricity. The higher the wind speed and the more constant the wind, the more reliable of a source of generation the turbines will be and that lowers the cost of generation making a project more attractive to developers and power purchasers.
“The other information we’ve received from several sources around the state is that more and more wind developers are looking at our Thayer County Model of land owner participation in wind projects as the right way to do business,” Aksamit said. “This is great news for rural Nebraska and all land owners who may sign their land up for participation in a wind project. It validates what we’re doing in Thayer County.”
The normal structure of wind projects has been where the developer picks “winners” – the landowners who get a turbine on their land and receive an annual payment, and “losers” – land owners who do not get a turbine and receive no payments at all. In the Thayer County Model, every land owner who signs their land up to be considered for the project receives an annual payment whether they have a turbine on their land or not. Land owners may also forego an annual payment for ownership in the wind project if they choose to do so.
“We have about 50 percent of the landowners in the project footprint signed up. The only people that said they weren’t interested were landowners with no ties to the area. Local support and sign up is very strong,” Aksamit said.