CHANUTE – Representatives of a proposed electric generation project assured spectators Thursday evening that property values would not decrease and noise would not be a major issue.
Representatives of Apex Clean Energy and consultants for the planned Neosho Ridge wind project presented information at Neosho County Community College. Members of the Neosho County Commission attended but did not sit together for the evening, which included presentations and written questions submitted by the audience.
A video of the meeting and answers to questions not addressed during the time limit will be available online at www.neoshoridgewind.com after Feb. 12. The meeting itself will be available on www.chanute.com on Saturday.
Speakers included Development Manager Jade Scheele; environmentalist Hank Seltzer; Vice President of Operations Neil James and Senior Vice President of Engineering and Construction Nathan Biediger, all of Apex; Robert O’Neal of Epsilon Associates; Joey Marous of Marous and Co.; and Illinois State University economics professor Adrienne Ohler.
The proposed project would generate up to 300 megawatts of electricity from an array of 139 windmills on a reported 44,000 acres in southwest Neosho County. Scheele said the company is leasing an additional area to the northeast of the current project area and hopes to be operational by December 2020.
Seltzer gave information on the wildlife and bird studies the company is doing, and O’Neal spoke as a sound engineer. Marous addressed the impact on property values, and Ohler talked about the broader economic impact to the region. James and Biediger discussed the project construction and safety issues.
Marous, a real estate consultant based in Chicago, used a matched-pair analysis comparing the sales of homes near wind energy generation in Kansas with similar homes farther away and said prices were higher for the properties closer to windmills.
An audience member cited a report with a negative impact of 25 to 40 percent. Project opponent LeRoy Burk provided the report, which was reviewed by Neosho County Appraiser Bob McElroy, who said there would be an impact but he did not agree with a specific amount.
Marous said many homes in Neosho County are below market value because they were handled through private sales or passed down from one generation to another in the same family. He said he was not aware of the previous report.
He said having guarantees against property value loss are difficult to administer because they require an appraiser to be in business into the future, as well as monitoring maintenance on the properties.
Ohler projected the life of the project would create 478 local jobs with new earnings of $23 million and total output of $53.6 million during the construction phase. Long-term operations would create 39 jobs with $1.7 million in annual earnings and total output of $7.7 million per year.
Apex has offered to pay $2,000 per megawatt of total capacity per year for 10 years while the project is exempt from property taxes. Ohler said after 2031, by which time depreciation would fall below the minimum 20 percent of new cost, the project would pay an approximate total of $63.6 million over 25 years.
Neal said the chances of ice thrown from a windmill striking a house would be once in 62,500 years, one per 100,000 vehicles or once in 500 years for a person standing 65 feet from the tower.
Scheele said that in addition to an attractive wind resource, Neosho County has a transmission capacity in a power line south of the project.
Apex is still negotiating over which windmill to use from which supplier but is looking at a Vestas 2.2 model. The number of turbines would be a maximum of three per square mile in approximately a 68-square-mile area.
The windmills would be constructed on a 74-foot diameter foundation, 10 feet deep below a 14-foot diameter pylon. Biediger said it may be necessary to use dynamite for rock, but that is not common and the shockwave would dissipate before it reached any houses.
He also said he has had projects in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio where the population was much denser, and projects in Iowa and Minnesota that were similar.
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