Wind farm application on its way

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June 28, 2017 - 12:00 AM

A one-sentence comment from County Counselor Alan Weber during Tuesday morning’s commission meeting is likely to have far-reaching implications.
“Rorik Peterson called and said he is preparing an application,” Weber announced.
Peterson is associate director of development for EDP Renewables. The application is for construction of a wind farm in the northeast part of the county.
EDP has been acquiring options on land — about 14,000 acres in hand at last notice — so it may erect more than 50 —  perhaps close to 100 — windmills to generate electricity. The site is convenient for the company, being close to transmission lines along the east side of the county to transport power generated into the grid. Transportation access is an important aspect of wind-produced power.
Peterson, during one of several planning commission meetings, told the Register construction of the wind farm could start soon enough to have turbines online by late 2018.
State law abates property taxes for 10 years, an incentive that previously extended for the life of a project, and the company will make a payment in lieu of taxes prior to being taxed. EDP mentioned $200,000 a year — it paid Coffey County $500,000 in the first year for a wind farm near Waverly — but that is subject to negotiation.
Construction will mean many temporary jobs. Once completed, 12 to 18 full-time technicians will be employed to maintain the turbines.
A second company, NextEra, is obtaining options on land in southwest Bourbon and southeast Allen counties, but is not as close as EDP to power production.
Calpine, a third company, made on-site overtures in Anderson County, but pulled out when opposition apparently was deemed too much, including having a wind test tower destroyed by vandals.
Weber also said he intended either to cut back on his role as counselor, or retire altogether, in 2018. He will be 65 in September.
Commissioner Tom Williams asked whether he would consider continuing in some regard on a contractural basis. Perhaps, Weber answered.
Weber is more than legal counsel. He frequently functions as a county administrator; as evidenced by his work with EDP, as well as other non-legal matters that crop up.
Replacing Weber full time with another attorney would not be easy, he said.
“You’re not going to get a full-time lawyer for what I’m paid,” $56,000 a year, he reckoned. Also, a lawyer new to the county position would have to adjust to the administrative duties he performs.

SEVERAL department heads proposed expenditures for the 2018 budget, including County Attorney Jerry Hathaway, who appraised commissioners of a preponderance of child-in-need-of-care (CINC) cases his office deals with each year.
“Last year we had 75 and we’re in the 50s already this year,” he said. Also, his office dealt with eight termination of parental rights cases in 2016. By comparison, the Clark County attorney told Hathaway she filed one CINC case in 2016.
Litigation in parental termination includes extraordinary costs during efforts to find parents. A legal notice appears in the Register, as well as anywhere else a parent is thought to live or to have been living. That includes other cities and state, including in one case Florida. “Some of those legal notices cost as much as $800,” but not trying to alert parents would violate responsibility, he said.
Following discussions with Angie Murphy, 911 director, commissioners met with her, and Weber, in executive session for 15 minutes. No action was taken afterward.

A NEW tower to hold the 911 antenna and other communication devices will be erected near the critical response center on North State Street.
A Topeka company, Hayden Tower Service, surveyed the tower several weeks ago and reported it needed replaced. A second opinion sought, from Second Sight Systems, Hillsboro, Mo., left some doubt, at least in the mind of Commissioner Jim Talkington.
Among Second Sight Systems’ findings: “… there does not appear to be any flaking of the metal structure itself due to rust …,” but “… immediate action would be required to rectify the deterioration of the metal structure before it reaches a critical stage.” Further, “While it does not appear that the tower is in any immediate danger of collapse …” that might occur “… under ‘perfect storm conditions …’”
The report also recommended eventual replacement.
Talkington was willing to wait until later; Williams and Commissioner Jerry Daniels weren’t.
Their votes approved 2-to-1 a $215,000 contract proposed by Hayden to erect a new tower.

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