Around 60 local residents came out Monday morning for the regular Brown County Commission meeting to hear from a wind energy company developer.
The meeting had been moved to the third floor court room, as a larger crowd was expected to hear information on wind energy developments.
The topic has been a hot one in recent months as wind energy companies have developed areas in Nemaha County and are working toward building in Brown County. This has caused some concern with local landowners as they have been approached by developers.
Commissioners have cautioned county residents to check with their individual attorneys and not make hasty decisions.
On Monday, Nat Drucker, Invenergy Product Developer on the Pony Express Wind Energy project, spoke to the county commissioners and before the audience about his company’s interest in expanding into Brown County. He noted this would be the first of many meetings where he would be addressing the commissioners, along with scheduling public forums.
He said Invenergy was one of North America’s largest wind energy company – one that had originally focused on natural gas. Over the past 18 years, Invenergy has managed 135 wind projects and has 1,000 employees. The company is currently developing all throughout Kansas, which offers a very strong wind resource and has a high demand for energy.
Drucker said he is currently working on approaching land owners and creating agreements and surveys. He said this will take up most of the year and mentioned there were no plans for any further construction in 2019. He noted the company had completed some minor earthwork and laid a concrete surface near Morrill, but stressed that the company did not plan to place a wind turbine there. He said it was the minimal earthwork required to create a hold on federal incentives.
Drucker said throughout 2019, he plans to continue working with the county and landowners, to survey and create guidelines on developing a project. He said these guidelines with the county and landowner agreements had to be in place before any construction could take place. It would detail income the county would receive – which he estimated could be up to $140 million over 30 years, which is the project life.
He said a project website and email will be available soon for area landowners who have questions and need information.
Brown County Attorney Kevin Hill spoke about a time frame for developing the project and noted the county commission was interviewing engineers later Monday morning and hoped to have someone in place to offer advice soon. Drucker said they could start negotiations once the engineer was in place, but estimated it could be late summer or early fall before Invenergy was ready.
Hill also asked Drucker if he was willing to conduct a public form to seek feedback and Drucker responded that he would. Hill also asked if Drucker could provide the county with specific examples of other similar projects so the commissioners could obtain feedback to consider.
Hill said that the county can provide general answers to questions, but advised that for legal expertise on agreements, that landowners needed to contact their personal attorney.
Commissioner Keith Olsen said he was conducting some research on similar projects and gathering input from legislators on the impact a wind energy project would have on Brown County.
“My advice is no rush, just do your homework and research before coming to an agreement,” he said.
Following the presentation by Drucker, the county commissioners met with several representatives from engineering firms who could possibly oversee the project development.
Engineers who gave presentations to the commissioners included:
* Tanner Yost and John Riggins, project engineers for Kirkham Michael, discussed the services offered through their company for wind energy project.
* Kenny Blair, Cook, Flat & Strobel Engineer and Bruce Rinkes, Cook, Flat and Strobel client liaison, discussed their services offered for wind energy projects.
* Moni G. El-Aasar, vice president of BG Consultants, discussed wind energy projects in Coffey County and the usage of their county road system in regards to the projects. He also discussed services his company could provide.
No action was taken on obtaining any engineering services. In the only public comment, Amy Kopp, rural Brown County resident, asked when leases would be filed with the Brown County Register of Deeds. Drucker indicated they are currently working on getting the leases filed. Kopp also asked about a time when a map would be available. Drucker indicated there is not one available at this time, but there will be one in the near future.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding