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By Echo Menges
The following question and answer interview was conducted by this reporter via email with John Carson, CEO of Cordelio Power, earlier this month to update the community on the progress of the Knox County Wind Project.
Q&A Interview with John Carson, CEO of Cordelio Power
Q: Is there a timeline on when the project will begin? If so, what is it?
A: We are currently advancing design with a goal towards procuring turbines and executing construction contracts over the next 12 months. Construction may begin as early as late summer 2024, in which case, we would expect the project to be operational in 2025.
Q: Have the MoDOT Road Use Agreement contracts been negotiated? If so, can I have a copy of the contract? If not, how far along are the negotiations?
A: We have had preliminary conversations with MODOT representatives, but the layout has not been finalized yet. Once we have advanced the design in 2023 and finalized which roads will be used to construct and operate the facility, then we will be able to fully engage MODOT to define our respective obligations to ensure the public road network will be fully protected.
Q: What is the status of the environmental impact study? If complete, can I have a copy?
A: No environmental impact study is required for the project at this time.
Q: What is the process for determining where the wind turbines will be located? And when will that be made public? If it is public now, can I have a copy of it?
A: Siting the wind turbines requires several layers of analysis, including land lease provisions, the type of turbines used, keeping the turbines sufficiently far away from roads, airports, residences and other turbines, avoiding areas of higher wildlife activity and other environmental factors, capturing the optimal amount of wind energy, and other factors.
Our developers and engineers will deploy software and other tools to arrive at a final layout for the turbines. This process takes months and is constantly accommodating new information. We will have an initial version of the layout in 2023, but even that will be subject to small, further adjustments after we receive final commentary from government agencies that need to sign off on the layout.
The layout will be made public when it is presented to the Knox County Commission as required under the Development Agreement executed last fall, and that will likely occur in 2024 when it is finalized.
Q: How many landowners are participating in the project?
A: We have approximately 110 total landowners under agreement for the project.
Q: How many acres are currently in the project footprint?
A: Approximately 31,000 acres are participating in the project.
Q: How many landowners have been added since the contracts between Cordelio and the Knox County Commission were completed?
A: A majority of the necessary land rights were obtained before the Knox County Commission approved our Development Agreement. We worked hard to make sure we had a viable project and had significant support from property owners in the area.
Q: Are you still taking on new participants for the project?
A: A handful of additional parcels may be obtained over the coming months.
Q: Is there anything I’ve missed you think is important for the community to know?
A: While current plans call for 65 turbines that will generate a total of 290 MW of power, the final number of turbines will be determined when the turbine model is selected and purchased.
We are excited to advance the project through the final development and construction phases and place the project in service. We appreciate the support we have received through the development phase and look forward to the positive impacts the project will have in the county.
We have a local office in Edina now and are happy to talk with members of the community about our project plans. We will also construct a long-term operations and maintenance facility and will maintain a local presence throughout the facility’s operations.