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Commission seeks road-use agreement for project

CARTHAGE, Mo. – Work is expected to begin about Nov. 1 on construction of a substation in northeast Jasper County as part of a $1 billion wind turbine project for Liberty Utilities-Empire District.

In preparation, the company overseeing the project, Tenaska of Omaha, Nebraska, needs to modify public roads and build access roads around the project site in order to transport oversize building materials and equipment. Construction will require separate entrance and exit routes for traffic flow, the Jasper County Commission was told Tuesday.

As a result, the commission and Tenaska are forging a road agreement to protect the county’s roads and access by residents.

The agreement involves the use of Thorn Road and other routes, east of Jasper, that will be used to get to North Fork Ridge, the site of the planned substation construction.

Tenaska representatives said they are preparing a final traffic map for the routes to be used that will be given to the county. Letters will be sent to residents in the Jasper area informing them of the final plans for road use.

“We want to be good neighbors to the community,” a Tenaska representative told the commission.

Commissioner Darieus Adams said the agreement ensures that proper setbacks are established and the roads are repaired. The commission wants Tenaska to work with the county’s road superintendent as well as the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department to ensure that the roads provide access for residents and emergency vehicles.

As construction of the substation progresses, residents will see the condition of the roads decline because of the heavy traffic, the commission was told.

“You can’t sugar coat that we are going to tear things up during construction,” the Tenaska representative said of the effect of moving heavy equipment and trucks will have. But the company wants to keep an open line of communication with the county to resolve concerns before they become problems, the commission was told.

“We have done our due diligence and everything we can do to hold you accountable,” Adams said, advising the company to keep residents informed.

The energy contractor said it needs letters of acknowledgment from the commission that the company has sent the county letters and provided documents regarding the project implementation plan, the commission was told. Then the company will be back in touch with the final road map.

Plans for another wind farm site, King’s Point, will be discussed later.

After the meeting, presiding commissioner John Bartosh said the county’s only authority regarding the project is the road agreement because the county does not have planning and zoning laws that would regulate land use.

“We did not want to make it look like we endorsed them,” he said of the wind farms. “Our goal is we want to make sure the roads and the setbacks are taken care of,” along the construction routes used.

Bartosh said he has checked with other places where similar projects have been built and was told, “They tear up the roads, but they will put them back better than what they were before.”

Tenaska has a contract to develop and manage construction of two wind farms in parts of Jasper, Barton, Lawrence and Dade counties. A third will be built in Southeast Kansas. About 200 landowners will be paid an annual lease for land where the turbines and substations will be located.

There will be about 280 turbines constructed, capable of generating 600 megawatts of electricity. Of those, 138 will be in Missouri.


The contractor for the wind farm project is Mortenson of Minneapolis, Minn.