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County board hears update on proposed wind farm project

An update on a proposed wind farm project, which could provide over $36 million in gift and tax revenue to Cloud County over a 30 year period, was presented to the county board of commissioners during its regular meeting on Monday.

EDP Renewables North America (EDPR NA) representatives Chris Morris, project manager, and Rorik Peterson, director of development for the central region, met with the commissioners to discuss the proposed 200 megawatt Plum Nellie Wind Farm to possibly be constructed in the southeast corner of Cloud County.

The Plum Nellie Wind Farm would border Meridian Way, operated by EDP Renewables, on the west side and stretch east to the Clay County line and south of U.S. Highway 24.

With 45-50 turbines likely, it was reported to the commission that the project has the potential for construction as early as 2022.

In 2015, the Kansas legislature repealed the lifetime property tax exemption for renewable energy projects and replaced it with a 10-year exemption which is consistent with other forms of electricity generation.

Under the new rules, Plum Nellie Wind Farm would not enjoy the same lifetime property tax exemption as Meridian Way.

Renewable energy owners/operators like EDPR NA voluntarily provide contributions during the first 10 years of the operations. The contributions are significant, but due to the future high property tax obligations, need to be appropriate for the project to be economically viable.

Morris and Peterson informed the commissioners that EDPR NA would like to enter into a in-lieu of tax PILOT gift agreement with the county commissioners.

EDPR NA proposed a gift of $1,000 per megawatt, or $200,000 per year for the first 10 years (2023-2032).

The estimated property tax payment from EDPR NA in the 11th year of the farm (2022) is over $850,000. In year 12 and beyond, the tax payments to the county are over $1.7 million. EDPR NA would like to enter into the agreement with the county soon because firming up those assumptions is important to the commercial marketing and economic modeling.

It was reported to the commission that with broad community support and enthusiastic landowners, development activities for Plum Nellie Wind Farm advanced quickly.

All land needed for wind turbines, roads, underground collection cables, the overhead generator lead line and collection and interconnection substations have been secured under long term lease or agreement.

Interconnection studies in the Southwest Power Pool have been delayed, but are not underway.

Commercial discussions are ongoing with potential electricity customers.

EDPR NA, headquartered in Houston, will seek to work with the county on a road use agreement for the use of county roads for the project.

Ranked fourth in the United States in installed wind capacity, EDPR NA operates 52 wind farms, including Meridian Way, and eight solar parks, totaling more than 7,000 megawatts of operating renewable energy projects.