Wind power blows in big money to Ford, Clark counties

A wind turbine near Minneola
A wind turbine near Minneola

MINNEOLA, Kan. (KSNW) — A new wind farm is being built near Dodge City. The 178 megawatt facility will provide enough energy to power about 54,000 homes for a year.

It will be built near Minneola but will bring an economic boom to both Ford and Clark counties.

Construction is about a fourth of the way complete on Bloom Wind farm.

Capital Power, the company building and operating the wind farm, says it will have a significant impact on the local economy.

“So the benefits to the counties Ford and Clark as well as to Minneola school board is quite significant with more than 1.2 million per year in direct payments to those counties, local landowners, and the school district,” said Michael Sheehan, a representative with Capital Power.

The money doesn’t come as taxes. Instead, Capital Power gives an agreed-upon contribution, which is then divided out among local counties, school districts, landowners, and other entities.

“[It’s] very helpful, especially in these hard economic times for people,” said Ford County Treasurer Debra Pennington, “and I don’t think that people realize the impact that it does give to our community and the benefits that it does give us.”

It also brings short-term jobs to the community, during construction.

“So currently there’s as many as 130 construction workers on site,” said Sheehan. “It would be a mixture of people. So some people would definitely be hired local, from within the counties, from within the state.”

The Minneola School District isn’t sure yet how much money it will receive from the deal. They’re still working out the specifics.

It does have a plan for how it will spend it. They’ll use the funds to pay down the bonds used to build the high school.

The district expects the money to start rolling in late in 2017.