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WAKEFIELD, Neb. | Facebook gave a thumbs up to the development a long-dormant wind farm project in rural Dixon County, Nebraska. 

The social media giant announced on its own platform late last week it partnered with developer Trade Winds Energy of Lenexa, Kansas, to build the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project in rural Northeast Nebraska.

Facebook plans to use energy from the wind farm to power its upcoming data center in Papillion, Nebraska, a suburb of Omaha, the state's largest city.

When completed, the wind farm would be the second-largest in Nebraska and generate enough energy to power 90,000 homes.

The 320-megawatt Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project is set to be built southwest of Sioux City across a 32,000-acre area in Dixon County between the towns of Allen, Emerson and Wakefield, according to Trade Winds.

Simulation of Dixon County wind farm

A photo simulation Facebook used when it announced that it was revitalizing the long-dormant Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project, a new 320-megawatt wind farm that will be built in rural Dixon County, Neb.

According to Trade Winds, each turbine will take a minimal amount of acreage — 1 percent to 2 percent — out of service, including land for roads, turbine, foundations and maintenance buildings.

Trade Winds original Rattlesnake Creek was comprised of a 200-megawatt wind farm spread over 20,000 acres.

More than 100 local landowners were involved in that version of the project and they were looking at potential payments of $10,000 to $15,000 for hosting a turbine on their property.

Neither Facebook nor Trade Winds provided the number of landowners involved with the new Rattlesnake Creek.

Also, no cost was given but the new Rattlesnake Creek could likely exceed the $400 million price tag of its 200-megawatt predecessor.

Of the 320-megawatts of power Rattlesnake Creek will create, 200 of them will be allocated to Facebook’s data center while the remaining 120 megawatts are available for other buyers.

Facebook's data center would receive its power via a transmission line owned by the Nebraska Public Power District that runs east/west through the southern part of the project site.

Trade Winds original Rattlesnake Creek project fell apart in late 2013 after it failed to find buyers for the energy the wind farm would have produced. Nebraska law at the time required wind farms to sell 10 percent to in-state utilities and sell the rest out-of-state.

This updated version of the project came about due to a partnership Facebook and Trade Winds formed with the Omaha Public Power District to create a tariff that provides companies access to renewable energy sources.

A timeline wasn't provided as to when construction on the wind farm will begin, but a spokesperson for Trade Winds said it is projected to be online by the fourth quarter of 2018.


Business reporter

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