Locations for wind turbines around Hope being evaluated
Credit: Duane Schrag | Dec 15, 2022 | abilene-rc.com ~~
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A wind farm developer has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to evaluate the placement of 123 wind turbines near Hope. The 95 square-mile footprint of the Hope Ridge Wind Project is primarily in Logan, Ridge, Union and Hope townships.
Jon Beck, development manager for Enel Green Power, said the company plans to submit a proposed road maintenance agreement to Dickinson County this week. It anticipates requesting permits to build the turbines in the spring of 2023. Enel Green Power is a global wind farm developer.
On the project webpage, Enel Green Power says the project will have a capacity of 260MW, which would make it one of the 10 largest wind farms in Kansas.
Last year Enel erected a weather station on a 275-foot tower two miles north of Hope, which is typically a step in the process of evaluating the potential for a wind farm.
County Commissioner Ron Roller, who lives in Woodbine, said he was contacted some months ago by a wind farm developer. He declined to meet with the representative and made a point of sharing the contact with fellow commissioners.
“I brought that up because I didn’t want to talk to anybody about anything like that unless other commissioners were with me,” he said. “If they don’t want to meet with all three commissioners or the commission itself, then I don’t want to hear about it.”
Under the county’s zoning regulations, a wind farm cannot be established without a conditional use permit, which requires public hearings.
About six weeks ago, Enel filed a request with the FAA to determine if 700-foot wind turbines surrounding Hope pose a hazard to aircraft. Nearly all of the tower locations are in Dickinson County. Four are in Marion County, less than a mile from the county line.
Beck, who is also the project manager, said turbine locations will not be finalized until next summer. All turbines will be located on private land and meet county zoning setback requirements. The regulations say the distance between turbines and property lines must be at least twice the tower height.
Under Kansas law, wind turbines are exempt from property taxes for the first 10 years. During that period, they are depreciated to 20 percent of their original value. Using the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2022 edition of “Land-based Wind Market Report,” which estimates that it costs $1.5 million per megawatt to establish large-scale wind farms, the Hope Ridge project would cost about $390 million.
Based on existing tax rates, the 10-year tax exemption for a wind farm of that value around Hope would waive $61 million in local property taxes over the exemption period. The annual property tax in following years (again, based on current tax rates) would be approximately $2.3 million.
The amount of revenue the wind farm will generate for Enel Green Power depends, among other things, on agreements Enel makes to sell the power, and the wind farm’s “capacity factor” – how much of its potential generating capacity is actually used. In Kansas, a capacity factor of 40 percent is not unusual.
Based on that performance, and a wholesale cost of about $0.05 per kilowatt-hour, a wind farm of this size could generate approximately $45 million in electricity annually.
“We’re still in the very early stages of the project and have not pursued a power purchase agreement at this time,” Beck said in an email.
Evergy, the largest utility in Kansas, provided a guarded response when asked if it planned to buy power from the Hope Ridge project.
“Enel is a partner on new wind farms and our purchased power agreement portfolio,” said spokesman Kaley Bohlen, “but we are not currently contracted for Hope Ridge.”
The county’s zoning regulations stipulate that before the county issues building permits for wind turbines some requirements must be met:
– a Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) agreement with the wind developer to compensate the county in part for the 10-year tax exemption
– a road maintenance agreement governing roads used in the development and maintenance of the wind farm
– a decommissioning plan for restoring the wind farm site to its pre-development condition
County Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said the county has not yet met with Enel Green Power to discuss the project. The county has yet to decide how much it will seek through the PILOT agreement.
“The county should be the recipient of a reasonable amount,” Peterson said. “I’m sure there is a tipping point. I think we’ll probably do some research.”
Kansas generates considerably more electricity than the state uses. In 2021, Kansas power plants and wind farms generated 56.6 million megawatt-hours, while in-state usage was 40.5 MWh. Wind farms produced 25.7 million MWh, about 45 percent of the total generated and nearly two-thirds of the total electricity used in-state.
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