Wind farm payments to county set

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November 22, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Allen County will receive $250,000 annually from EDP Renewals in lieu of property taxes for 10 years.
That was part of an agreement accepted by commissioners Tuesday.
Other features of note:
— EDP will designate routes for trucks hauling heavy materials, including towers and blades, when construction of EDP’s Prairie Queen wind farm begins in mid-2018. Roads will be examined by engineers and their condition visually recorded beforehand. Mitch Garner, director of Public Works, will sign off on the routes. After construction, the roads and bridges will be reexamined to ensure their conditions are acceptable.
— EDP will set aside $50,000 for decommission of towers and turbines, if the project is abandoned some time in the future.
The payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) is based on $1,250 per megawatt of power generated and will be paid to the county each December. Payments will begin in the first year of generation, anticipated for 2019.
When the state-imposed property tax exemption expires in 10 years, the PILOT will be replaced by annual taxes, anticipated by models EDP cited at $1.2 million per year. Generation life is predicted for at least 20 years.
Landowners who enrolled their acreages with EDP — better than 14,000 in northeast Allen County — are receiving development phase payments. When generation begins, they will receive additional compensation based on power flowing from turbines on their properties.
The overall agreement is “more comprehensive,” as far as roads and maintenance are concerned than the one signed when Enbridge laid its pipeline across the county, said County Counselor Alan Weber.
While at this point the agreement is specific to EDP, if another company were to propose a wind farm for the county — NextEra has leased ground in the southeast part of the county —  it could be made to apply “just by changing the name of the company,” Weber predicted.
As for EDP’s marketing its generation, “we’re late, late in negotiations with a customer,” said Rorik Peterson, EDP associate director of development.
A transmission line will gather power from various turbines — likely no more than 60, Peterson said — and place it on the grid by way of Kansas City Power and Light’s main line that runs along the east side of Allen County.

COMMISSIONER Tom Williams said, “I’d like it in stone how to use the money,” regarding the additional taxes.
His recommendations:
— A portion be provided to the multi-school vocational technical center southeast of LaHarpe, with consideration given to training in wind farm technology.
Peterson said EDP had had initial talks with representatives of the technical center, and regaled commissioners how Cloud County Community College had training programs to support an EDP wind farm in that county.
— That each school district in the county share in annual proceeds.
“We’re fortunate to have another source of revenue,” said Commissioner Jerry Daniels, and “I’d like to see it benefit children.”

OTHERWISE, commissioners:
— Did not seize opportunity to purchase timers — at $637, including shipping — to control Christmas lights on the courthouse lawn. As is, the lights are on 24 hours a day, because turning off and on would require a multitude of hands-on tasks. Commissioners did not initiate the proposal — it came from Humanity House faithful who put up the lights — and later learned power for the lights is provided on Iola’s dime.
— Took no action on a proposal to place recycling receptacles near the 911 center on North State Street, where cardboard, plastic and aluminum cans might be deposited. Commissioner Jim Talkington said he had been asked to quiz fellow commissioners on the recycling opportunity. Ron Holman, maintenance supervisor, will look into the possibility.
— Heard from Carla Nemecek, during a brief review of Extension Service activities, the Allen County Fair would celebrate its 125th anniversary in August 2018.

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