Commissioners get solar farm update

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2023

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The Mower County Board of Commissioners received an update Tuesday morning regarding the proposed 100 MW Timberwolf Solar Project by NextEra Energy that will be built just east of Adams.

According Adam Gracia, NextEra project manager, the project submitted its final application to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Oct. 30. It’s hoped that construction of the project will start in May of 2025 with commercial operations slated to begin in August of 2026.

In total, there will be 252,000 panels installed on 3,100 racks over 460 acres of land directly south of Taopi. Total land usage by the time fencing, stormwater  basins and temporary laydown yards will come to 525 acres.

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As part of that, a smaller collector substation will be built along side the Adams substation, located along Highway 56 just outside of Adams.

The panels themselves will be tracking panels, meaning they will move with the sun to maximize collection as it goes across the sky.

Gracia said that yearly payments to landowner will come to approximately $2 million yearly and amount to $60 million at the end of the project’s 30-year lifespan. He went on to say that at the end of the 30 years there are two options moving forward: decommission the project and restore the land or gauge the interest of land owners, revamp the solar farm and continue on with the project.

Commissioners okay habitat easement

Commissioners also approved a resolution for a habitat easement on approximately 116 acres in Lansing Township.

The land, owned by Gary and Jan Medgaarden of Altura, will be designated as a working lands easement.

“We’re looking at trying to develop property to reach its full potential for wildlife habitat,” said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services District Manager Jon Beyer.

Out of three options, the land is designated as hay only, though the Medgaardens are not locked into harvesting hay by the decision. The plan calls for reworking the land and upgrading the 25 smaller wetland basins on the property.

The land remains privately held, requiring landowner permissions to enter it for any reason.