ALLEN — It was time to share information and maybe even do a little bit of showing off.
On Wednesday, media representatives and others were invited to the Rattlesnake Creek wind farm located south of here to see the new 101-turbine operation in Dixon County.
Imanol San Martin, who serves as the director of wind operations and maintenance for the company that owns the wind farm, was on hand to give a brief history of the operation and explain how the towers convert the wind into energy.
The Rattlesnake Creek wind farm, which is owned and operated by Enel Green Power North America, Inc., will supply power to Facebook's new data center in Papillion that opened this week.
"We congratulate Facebook on the opening of their new data center and are pleased to partner with them in bringing new jobs and economic development to Nebraska," said San Martin, "We are grateful to the residents near the Rattlesnake Creek wind farm for welcoming us into your community and look forwarding to continuing to be a good long-term partner over the life of the project."
Rattlesnake Creek, which began commercial operation at the end of 2018, has a 320-megawatt capacity, making it the second-largest wind project in Nebraska. It is Enel Green Power's first wind project in the state.
Rattlesnake Creek was built with an investment of over $430 million. Most of its generated power is contracted to Facebook, which will supply its new Papillion Data Center with 100% renewable energy.
Some of Rattlesnake Creek's energy will also be sold to Adobe, advancing the company toward its goal of using only energy from renewable sources by 2035.
Adobe and Facebook have opted for renewable energy by signing power purchase agreements for long-term clean energy supply. These provide a commercial solution that can repay, through guaranteed cash flow, investments in new renewable plants, to the benefit of economic and environmental sustainability, San Martin said.
The project produces enough renewable power to meet the electricity consumption needs of more than 105,000 U.S. households.
According to San Martin, the farm will generate over $85 million in taxes and lease payments in the area and will employ 20 permanent positions at the site.
But the taxes and jobs aren’t the only benefit being provided to Northeast Nebraska by the new wind farm.
Enel Green Power has contributed funds for the purchase of an additional emergency vehicle for the Allen-Waterbury Fire & Rescue Department, which will enable the department to respond to community emergencies.
The company also contributed private matching dollars to support the City of Wakefield's Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund, which will be used to rehabilitate or build new housing and help the area attract and retain a rural workforce.
Throughout the life of the project, Enel also will support STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and renewable energy education programs at the Allen and Wakefield School Districts as well as provide scholarships for students from the host school districts to attend the Northeast Community College's wind technician training program in Norfolk.
Construction of the project involved over $11 million in spending to local companies while creating around 300 construction jobs.
San Martin said each tower has four decks on its way to the cell, which is where the turbines turn the massive blades. The towers rotate for maximum use of the wind depending which direction the wind is from on a given day.
At the base of each tower is where the electricity is collected from the cell.
"The electricity then goes through what we call the 'brain' of the tower," said Steven Tvedt, Rattlesnake Creek site manager. "It kind of 'cleans up' the electricity, which makes it acceptable for transmission."
From there, the electricity is transferred from the turbine to a substation in over five miles of underground lines.