Work at the new Reading Wind Energy Farm is expected to begin later this month.

Representatives from Southern Power Company and RES America gave members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee an overview of the project during LEPC’s quarterly meeting Thursday afternoon at the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

Southern Power Asset Manager Rachel Petry said the site will qualify as a 200-megawatt facility, encompassing more than 22,000 acres in Lyon and Osage counties.

“It’s around 23,590 acres, all of those under a long-term lease with the landowners,” Petry said.

Petry said there are two types of turbines that will be used on the site, both produced by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. There will be 62 total turbines installed at the facility. Each turbine is mounted on top of an 80-meter-tall tower and has a 116-meter, three-blade rotor connected to a generator.

The lines will be connected through the Emporia Energy Center, owned by Westar Energy.

The project has been in development for more than a decade, first conceptualized by RES America. Southern Power purchased the project last year, and is now working alongside RES America during the construction process.

“We will mobilize at the end of this month,” Petry said. “April 29 is our official mobilization date.”

Work on roads will begin in May, continuing through several months. The turbines will start being delivered in October. The parts will not be transported via rail this time around, but instead will be delivered via semi truck and tractor trailer. The parts will be housed at the Reading site prior to installation.

Petry said construction is expected to be completed by April 1, 2020.

There will be an influx of workers in the area during different phases of the project, Petry said. Local businesses are expected to see an increase in sales during this time, with both Southern Power and RES America committed to using local businesses and companies as much as possible during the construction process.

Kelly Bolin, assistant superintendent of human resources for Emporia Public Schools, asked what impact that might have on enrollment numbers for local districts.

Southern Power Site Project Manager Eric O’Neal said it likely would not have much of an impact on schools, but child care providers might see an increase.

“You will have a few of the guys who are more long-term who will have their families move with them,” he said. “I would think, at tops, you’d see an average of five kids.”

Petry said the wind farm is expected to last 30 years, after which time the leases may be revisited. Once the lease is terminated, the land is returned to its original condition.

A job fair for the project will be held at the Clarion Inn, 2700 W. 18th Ave., on May 13 and a variety of jobs will be available.

Emergency Communications

LEPC members also heard about the Everbridge Mass Communications System, which is used by Lyon County 911 Communications. Everbridge Coordinator Hailey Clark said the software can be used in both public and private capacities.

“It’s about getting notification out to the people who need it really quickly,” Clark said.

There are three different notifications that can be sent out: text, voice call and email. Notifications can require a response, which can be seen by administrators to ensure that a message has been received.

Clark said the county recently launched the public notification system through Everbridge, which people can sign up for by visiting @LyonCounty911 on Facebook. Once signed up, people can choose the types of notifications they receive, including notifications for events like the Dirty Kanza and the Glass Blown Open.

“There’s a wide range in how it can be used,” she said.

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