NEWMAN — Staff at Texas-based EDP Renewables announced Tuesday that construction crews have broken ground on the new Harvest Ridge Wind Farm.
Project Manager Amy Kurt told News-Gazette Media that the wind farm in the northeastern part of Douglas County will include 48 turbines.
“It is really exciting to see boots on the ground building the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm,” she said.
She also announced that it will begin providing electricity by the end of this year.
“We know this project will bring substantial benefits to the local community,” she said. “It is exciting to see those benefits coming to fruition.”
EDP Renewables hired the Appleton, Wis.-based Boldt Company to serve as the general contractor for Harvest Ridge.
Tony Densmore, senior project manager with Boldt, said local residents are being used for construction.
“We look forward to putting the local workforce to work,” he said. “We’ve started pulling from the local union halls and expect to continue to ramp up our workforce in the coming weeks.”
According to Kurt, the initial work, which started July 8, involves improving the local roads that will be used during construction.
When that work is complete, most likely in September, construction crews are expected to begin pouring the foundations for the turbines, constructing access roads to the turbine sites and digging underground trenches for electrical lines that will connect to each turbine.
The biggest milestone will come in October, when the huge turbines, blades and their parts will be trucked to Douglas County. Kurt said many of them will come from a manufacturing facility in Colorado.
Once they’re up, they’ll be visible for many miles.
“The nose of the turbine where the blades come together is 345 feet high, and the tallest part of the tip of the blade at the 12 o’clock position will be 591 feet high,” Kurt said.
For comparison purposes, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is 630 feet tall.
“To the naked eye, the turbines will be a light gray color,” Kurt said. “They are meant to blend in with the sky.”
While electricity will begin flowing by the end of the year, work on the wind farm will continue throughout 2020.
“Restoration work will take place next spring and summer,” Kurt said. “They will be removing gravel from the temporary roads, de-compacting the soil, replacing the topsoil and putting in the final coats to repair the roads post-construction. The whole idea is to return the farmland and roads to the same or better condition.”
After Boldt’s work is completed, Douglas County will put new top coats on the affected roads, she said.
Kurt said the construction of Harvest Ridge will employ about 250 people. When the wind farm is completed, it will employ eight to 10 people to operate and maintain the site and equipment.
EDP Renewables has lined up wind-energy agreements to sell 50 megawatts produced by Harvest Ridge to Walmart each year for the next 15 years, 100 megawatts a year to the Wabash Valley Power Association for 20 years and 50 megawatts a year to an unidentified private purchaser for an undisclosed number of years.