McPherson County landowners have been contacted by a company that is interested in building wind turbines in McPherson County.
If the project goes forward, landowners would lease their land to Nextera Energy, a company based out of Florida, that would then build up to 150 wind turbines in McPherson County depending on local interest and the turbine technology best suited for this area.
I recently spoke with Rebecca Rivera, a representative with Nextera, to find out more what wind turbines would mean for McPherson County.
“Wind energy brings jobs to communities, it brings tax benefits,” Rivera said. “It brings all of the economic stimulus that comes with those added jobs: businesses will see an increase in sales; restaurant will see their lobbies are full. It brings a lot of economic benefits to communities. It’s clean energy.”
Nextera representatives visited McPherson last week to meet with local landowners to see how much interest there might be in developing wind energy in McPherson County. It’s still too soon to tell, but so far Nextera representatives have liked the reception they’ve received.
“We’re in the very early start,” Rivera sad. “And landowners have been very interested and supportive, so McPherson is looking like a great community for wind.”
Rivera said that when wind turbines are developed, the whole community benefits and not just the landowners and the workers who keep them running.
“In addition to jobs, these projects represent hundreds and millions of dollars in capital investment,” said Rivera, “Which results in tens of millions of dollars in property tax benefits or payments in lieu of property taxes, that goes to the communities.
“In our experience,” she continued, “We see that communities use these millions of dollars over the life of the project to invest in services that everyone can enjoy. Things like roads, schools, emergency services. The money gets invested so that everyone in the community benefits from it.”
Different factors are considered when it comes to deciding where to develop wind energy. Wind, quite naturally, is the obvious one.
“And as any area resident in McPherson would probably tell you, the wind really blows in McPherson,” Rivera laughed. “So that was the first thing that would draw us to the area.
There are other factors,” she added, “Like proximity to transmission; we have to be able to get the power on to the grid. And landowner interest is another part of the puzzle. So right now all of these things are coming together."
According to Rivera, if the project goes forward, several new jobs would be created in McPherson County.
“With the projects, we have operations and maintenance buildings that go up and they make sure that the wind project runs. That can create up to ten permanent, full-time jobs. So there are permanent jobs that will be in the area resulting from the wind project.
“Whenever we can, we hire locally,” she continued. “In Kansas, we’ve been there since 2001. So typically in states where we’ve been for a long time, like Kansas, there will be the technical expertise in the area. Whenever we can, we do pull locally for these positions and we do look locally for the talent.”
Currently, Nextera is in the process of building two wind farms in Kansas: one in Pratt County; and one in Kingman.
However, Rivera stated that they are also the largest developer of wind energy worldwide.
“So we’re very experienced in doing this,” she said.
“Not only do we build the projects, we stay in the community to operate the projects. That’s our business model,” Rivera stated. “So when we enter into a community, we’re there for the long run, to become a part of the community.”
According to Rivera, one of the ways they become involved in the community is by partnering with local charity organizations.
“As a company, we will partner with local 4-H clubs, Lyons club… we will partner with local organizations and invest in wherever the need is: parks and [recreation]… so many different partnerships -- schools, we’ll fund STEM programs.”
Like Rivera said, negotiations for wind turbines in McPherson County are still in the very early stages. A lot depends on local interest from McPherson County landowners, so for now they will continue to work on those relationships and see where that takes them.
“Right now we’re still introducing ourselves to the community,” she said. “We will continue partnering with the community, reaching out to area residents. We will look to partner with community organizations like the local 4-H and Lyons Club. Hopefully we can bring to McPherson what we’ve brought to other counties in Kansas: jobs and economic benefits.”
If McPherson County landowners do decide to lease their land to Nextera to build wind turbines on their property, work is estimated to begin in about three years.
For more information on the Nextera company and their wind energy projects, visit their website at