An official with NextEra Energy advised the Reno County Commission on Tuesday the company expects to file its application for a conditional use permit for the Pretty Prairie Windfarm by Feb. 15.
The company previously indicated it hoped to file the necessary application for the 80-plus turbine farm in the southeast part of the county before the end of last year.
Then a week ago, when directly asked by a commissioner, the company wasn’t ready to say when it would apply.
Project Manager Spencer Jenkins said Tuesday the reason for the delay was that more people approached the company about participating in the project after several meetings about it.
That included a Dec. 5 meeting when a NextEra official revealed all landowners within the proposed footprint of the 88-acre project would receive some kind of payment, whether a turbine was on their land or not.
They wanted to meet with those people and explore the locations before finalizing the project, Jenkins said.
“We wanted to give everyone the same opportunity,” Jenkins said.
County planning officials previously indicated it would require about a month after the application is filed before a required public hearing before the Reno County Planning Commission could occur.
A Feb. 15 filing would likely meet the timeline for that hearing to occur at the planning board’s March 21 meeting. If approved, the County Commission would then probably take it up two weeks later.
The company, meanwhile, will host a private meeting for participating landowners on Wednesday night at Haven High School.
The “invitation only” meeting is to let landowners know what to expect as the project progresses and answer questions they may have, said Mark Trumbauer, another NextEra project manager.
He declined a request by The News to be allowed at the dinner meeting.
The planning commission has lost two of its members in the past month and a half, with the unexpected death of Mark Richardson and the resignation of recently-appointed member Hence Parson in December.
Commissioner Ron Hirst suggested Tuesday that, once two new members are appointed to the board, “they should look at potentially getting a little time out, so the new commissioners can get acquainted and knowledgeable of the position.”
“It took me a while to get adjusted to the city and county and how the process works,” Hirst said. “I’d like us to think about giving them a couple or three months to get adjusted to their roles since any future moves really affects the whole county. They need two meetings at least to get adjusted.”
Hirst asked that the commission take up the idea next week.
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