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Ranchers’ wind objections

A group of Osage County ranchers plans to join the Osage Nation in asking Federal, State, and County officials to oppose a proposed wind farm development in Osage County. The ranchers’ statement says as land owners they try and be good stewards of their property by protecting the grasses, water, wildlife, and scenic values they cherish in Osage County. The statement is signed by representatives of the Drummond Ranch, Hughes Cattle Company, Trentman Ranch, and Jacques Ranch. It calls wind factories a direct threat to the land, environment, and wide-open spaces of the Tallgrass Prairie they call home. The group contends billions of dollars in Federal tax incentives are the only reason the wind power is being developed and changes in Federal tax policy, wind and technology production could soon render the projects “enormous and expensive monuments to government waste”. Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle applauded the ranchers’ action. He says the development would serve to damage the area – visually, economically, and environmentally. The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued its statement last month that the project did not receive BIA approval before enacting an Osage County wind ordinance.

Renewable energy development subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation of Madison, Wisconsin, RMT Incorporated has been selected to design and build the 150-megawatt wind farm. RMT will provide the engineering, procurement, and construction of the 94 1.6-megawatt GE wind turbines. The Business Journal’s August 22nd story says a value of the work has not been disclosed but work is expected to begin early this fall and be completed by June of next year. St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group, LLC will own and operate the wind farm. According to Associated Energy Cooperative’s website, over the life of the project, Osage County Winds is expected to provide more than 30 million dollars in property tax revenue to Osage County, long-term lease payments to local landowners, and 1 and a half million dollars in regional business activity during construction. The project will create 250 on-site construction jobs and add 12 to 15 permanent positions once it is operating.