St. Joseph, Mo. Developers have announced plans for a wind energy project in northwest Missouri's Gentry County.
The venture, announced Tuesday in Jefferson City by Wind Capital Group, will be financed by John Deere Wind Energy of Johnston, Iowa, a division of the Deere & Co. farm equipment manufacturer, with Springfield-based Associated Electric Cooperative distributing the electricity through its network of cooperatives.
Plans for the Bluegrass Ridge project call for 24 wind turbines to be put in a 7,000-acre area of Gentry County near King City, about 30 miles northeast of St. Joseph.
The name of the project - the first major wind energy venture in the state - comes from the area's historic role in bluegrass seed harvesting.
Owners of about 12 farms have signed long-term leases to allow the turbines on their property. Construction is to start early this summer, with at least 16 windmills expected to be operational by the end of the year and the remaining eight by next spring. The project is expected to provide electric power for 15,000 to 30,000 homes, the developers said.
"It depends on how hard the wind blows," said Tom Carnahan, president of Wind Capital Group.
Some maps prepared several years ago by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources showed that the northwestern region of the state had some of the best areas for wind-power development.
"Wind is a clean, renewable source of affordable electricity, which has the added benefit of strengthening rural communities and helping Missouri farmers," Carnahan said in a written statement.
State Rep. Jim Guest, R-King City, said the wind farm could draw tourists to the area and will add construction jobs and more revenue for schools.
"It's something new; it's something unique," he said. "It's the first one in Missouri."
Mike Waltemath, who is leasing land for the project, said landowners will get income from the turbines without losing much use of their land.
"They're designed in almost a modernistic art form," he said. "They don't take up much room. They don't hamper the farming operation. You can run cattle around them, farm right up to them."