Proposed wind farm in Schuyler and Adair counties awaits approval from Missouri Public Service Commission

Terra-Gen LLC, a renewable energy company, is seeking regulatory approval to build a large wind farm in rural Schuyler and Adair counties.

Ameren Missouri plans to purchase the proposed wind farm, which would be the largest in Missouri, once it’s constructed. Last week, the Missouri Public Service Commission hosted a public hearing in Queen City and will decide whether or not to approve the High Prairie Wind Farm by the end of the year. If approved, Terra-Gen plans to begin construction by summer 2019, and the facility would begin producing power sometime in 2020.

Ajay Arora, vice president of power operations and energy management at Ameren Missouri, said when the company purchases the High Prairie Wind Farm, it will help the utility reach a mandate by the Missouri General Assembly that it produce at least 15 percent of its power from renewable sources. He said the facility will generate approximately 400 megawatts, enough energy to power 120,000 homes.

Carolyn Chrisman, director of Kirksville Regional Economic Development Inc., said the groundwork for a wind farm in northeast Missouri was laid about 10 years ago when several counties, including Schuyler and Adair, conducted wind studies to determine the viability of such a project in the area. She said the idea picked up steam about two and a half years ago when Terra-Gen began negotiating with local landowners.

Chrisman said the company has now reached lease agreements with all the landowners — around 200 — in the affected area to pay royalties on the land. She said in total, Ameren will pay about $3.2 million per year in royalties.

Arora said the project will be built without the use of eminent domain. He also said the project would lower customer’s power bills, but he did not say by how much.

Chrisman said most of the feedback from the community at the public hearing was positive, but there was a group from northwest Missouri, where a wind farm was recently built, that spoke out against the project.

Overall, however, Chrisman said the project would add jobs and economic activity to the community. She said about 400 temporary construction jobs would be created in the area for the 12-18 months while the wind farm is being built.

“All of those jobs created locally for the short term will have a great impact,” Chrisman said. “All the construction workers who come in from outside the area that stay in the hotels, they buy gas, they eat at the restaurants. So there will be a great uptick in economic activity simply during construction.”

For more, pick up a copy of The Index on Thursday, Aug. 30.