Scout Clean Energy of Boulder, Colorado, is finalizing its development plans before starting construction on its $300 million Nimbus Wind Farm in Carroll County in northwest Arkansas as early as by the end of the year.
The company said it has signed agreements with about 50 landowners along 9,500 acres off County Road 905 south of Green Forest in eastern Carroll County. The Nimbus Wind Farm is expected to produce 180 megawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly 30,000 homes.
Scout said the wind farm is one of more than 50 wind and solar projects the company has in production or in development across 24 states; the Nimbus project has been in the works since 2016. Arkansas does not currently have a producing wind farm although several are in planning.
“We are still in the developmental stage of the project, but the earliest we could start construction is the fall of this year,” said Dave Iadarola, senior project manager for Scout Clean Energy.
Scout Clean Energy said it will pay $14 million in leases to the landowners in Carroll County. The installed turbines could result in $25 million in additional property taxes for the county, which had a population of slightly more than 28,000 in the 2020 Census.
“It would be great for the schools,” said Carroll County Judge David Writer. “That’s what I’m hoping [for], that there would be a couple of school districts that would get a lot of money pumped into them. They desperately need that.
“It looks like it would bring in revenue. I’m hoping it is a great deal for the county. If it turns out to be a really good deal for the landowners, it will be a really good deal for the county.”
Iadarola said Scout has an interconnection agreement with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator to send the electricity generated by the Nimbus Wind Farm to the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.’s Dry Creek substation near Green Forest. MISO could then sell the electricity generated, but a customer or customers have not been determined.
“We are in the process of finding an offtaker,” Iadarola said.
Some Voice Opposition
The news that the Nimbus project was landing in Carroll County caused some vocal opposition, but Writer said there aren’t any county laws or ordinances that would prevent the project from going forward.
Writer said there were concerns about groundwater contamination and danger to bats and birds. The 500-foot turbine towers would obviously need a strong foundation, and the county’s karst topography could complicate the construction.
Karst topography results in caverns and caves and sinkholes. Building on those would require deeper foundations, which opponents of the project fear could spoil the county’s aquifers.
Iadarola said the company has done extensive studies of the planned site because of the karst and will build accordingly.
“At any site we develop we take geotechnical samples for each turbine location and design specific to those samples,” Iadarola said. “If there is karst present or some other issue like a cave or something like that, it would require either abandoning that turbine location or moving it. We performed our geotechnical review and have not run into any of those issues.
“We didn’t find any concerns or issues at any of the turbine locations.”
Bats in the region will lengthen construction time, Iadarola said. Studies have shown that wind turbines are not unreasonably dangerous for wildlife, but Iadarola said Scout would suspend construction during the bats’ migration season, resulting in up to a 16-month construction schedule.