DILLER, Neb. — Construction of a $138 million wind farm is underway in southeast Nebraska, and the work is already starting to benefit the area.
Flatbed trucks loaded with sections of the 262-foot-tall wind turbines will begin arriving soon.
The 75-megawatt project is being built by NextEra Energy Resources in southwest Gage and southeast Jefferson Counties. When the wind farm is completed later this year it will have 44 turbines.
“We can build a wind project in the same time a person can build a home,” said David Farkas, the project's civil and mechanical superintendent.
The Nebraska Public Power District has agreed to buy all the power from the site. Most of the power will go to communities and utilities NPPD serves statewide, but spokesman Mark Becker said some of the power will go to an unnamed industrial customer.
More than 120 workers are building the wind farm. When it's completed, five full-time employees will operate the site.
Diller Village Clerk Leatha Christ said the area is already seeing some economic benefits because many of the workers building the towers are camping out in Diller and Steele City.
Seventeen area landowners leased part of their land to NextEra for the project, and the company estimates that it will pay about $11 million a year in property taxes total to Jefferson and Gage Counties.
“We felt why not use wind energy as opposed to all the other sources to generate electricity,” landowner Peggy Hemphill said. “They (NextEra Energy Resources) are bending over backward to please people.”
While it's clear the wind farm will definitely affect the region, some residents question how much the project will benefit the area.
“I don't know whether it's going to benefit us or not,” retired farmer Dick Bugee said. “It's sure going to be different to look to the east and see all those.”
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