Commissioners Meets With Wind Farm Attorney

By Deb Hadachek Telescope News
www.thebellevilletelescope.com

Republic County Commissioners spent an hour in an executive session Zoom call Monday with Wichita attorney Trish Voth, who has recently been retained to represent the county in negotiations with wind energy developer NextEra Energy.

Voth is the primary contact in the Kansas Wind and Solar Energy division for Foulston Attorneys-At-Law.  According to the firm’s website, Foulston was involved with Kansas’ first two utility-scale wind energy projects, and the firm continues to serve as a local counsel advisor, representing parties in more than 30 wind and solar energy projects in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

The board took no action following the session.  Commissioners expect to meet soon with legal representatives from NextEra.

Concerns were raised about wind farm development in the county at a meeting with state legislators on February 26 (see related story). Annette Bredthauer, Belleville, said an informational meeting is planned in coming weeks led by Marshall County residents about concerns Republic County citizens should be aware of in wind farm development.  A date has not been set for that meeting.

In particular, they urge Republic County residents to ask for aircraft lighting detection systems on wind towers, technology that would only activate red warning lights if an aircraft is in the area, and proper setbacks of towers from homes.

Hire oversight

Ken Robbins, highway administrator, noted later in the commission meeting that a potential road use contract lists him as “county designee”, or the primary contact for the county’s interests in the wind farm development.

Robbins urged the commissioners to hire a qualified individual who would live in Republic County and whose sole job would be to oversee the county’s interests during the construction of a wind farm.  He said commissioners should ask NextEra to pay for that person’s salary as part of the county’s negotiated agreement.

“I think a person who lives here would serve you much better than an engineer out of Manhattan or Topeka or Lawrence,” he said.

Robbins said while he has taken a proactive role to tour recent wind farm development in Marshall County and hear potential pitfalls, he wants to continue to focus on his usual responsibilities to Republic County as highway administrator, solid waste and transportation director.

In his regular weekly report Monday, Robbins provided commissioners a five-page, single-spaced list of ongoing projects in the county.  That complete report can be found at http://republiccounty. org/main/highway-department.

Projects of note on that list include:

  • Potentially closing a Kyle Railroad underpass with fill dirt at  190 RD south of Marble and divert traffic up and over the railroad using an existing bypass.
  • Creating one mile of all-weather road on 20 RD south of US36 to Queen which is used as a route to transport bulk fertilizer out of Courtland.  The route avoids school and playground areas in Courtland. The project would require tree removal, cleaning ditches where right-of-ways have been farmed and improving the road surface with gravel.
  • Owners of Premium Feeders and Nesika Energy request improvements to 70 RD south of US36 for dust control.
  • The potential for a municipal solid waste landfill for Republic County similar to one operated in Clay County.

Eighteen bridge and culvert projects are on a “to do” list, and 32 road and driveway projects.

High Banks Wind Farm
A proposed Industrial Wind Farm to be built in Washington and Republic
Counties by NextEra Energy of Juno Beach Florida.

  • What this means:
    • 600 megawatts divided by 201 towers = 2.98 megawatts per tower
    • The tower height applied to the FAA for each structure in 650’
    • Have applied for 239 locations to build these towers on throughout Washington and Republic county.
      • 31 proposed wind towers in Washington County
      • 208 proposed wind towers in Republic County
      • All of these sites are within 15 Nautical Miles of Cuba
      • This information can be found at FAA website for obstructions under circle search for cases. Link to homepage: https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/portal.jsp
  • The power generated will be transmitted on a 345,000 volt Extra High Voltage transmission line east where it will tie into the substation for the Irish Creek Wind farm and continue on to the Stranger Creek substation owned and operated by Evergy.