Marshall County Commissioner Keith Bramhall said the economic benefits to his county from the construction of a wind farm are “enormous”.
Bramhall and Public Works Director Mike Craig answered questions for two hours November 23 at a Republic County Commission meeting.
“Anywhere there was a vacant lot (owners) plowed in electric and water lines for campers,” he said. He estimated workers found camping or rental sites within a 60 mile radius of the construction in southeast Marshall county.
Construction of the 108-tower wind farm started in April and will be completed by December 31, he said. The High Banks wind farm proposed in Republic County is twice that size.
“Businesses in the county saw an extreme windfall,” he said.
“One thing that is easy for us to track is sales tax,” he said. “Right before construction started, we passed a halfcent sales tax for the hospital. We started collecting money for that last November, and in six months we collected about $70,000 a month.
“On April 1 (when construction started) that went instantly to $90,000. In May or June we topped out at $105,000. That’s on a half percent.”
The biggest benefactors of the influx of workers were restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores, he said.
“I don’t know why someone with a food truck wouldn’t go to the laydown yard (where construction is centered),” he said.
Bramhall noted that the construction window is a short period of time to capitalize on sales. He estimated there are six permanent jobs created by the wind farm.
NextEra’s website on the High Banks wind project estimates 350 construction jobs, and 12-15 permanent jobs once the site is operational.