NextEra Energy continues to lay groundwork for possible wind farm
By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor
While company officials say there is nothing new to report, NextEra Energy continues to explore the potential for a wind farm in Republic and Washington counties.
“We continue to work to acquire land for the project and we are getting good response from land owners so far,” says Bryan Garner, manager of communications for NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based renewable energy company.
“The development process takes time and unfortunately I cannot give you a specific date for completion.
“We remain very interested in building a project in Washington and Republic counties,” he said.
Monday, Republic County Attorney Marlea James said she has been contacted by NextEra officials to begin work on an agreement on a property tax exemption and payment to the county in lieu of taxes.
“In order to get the property tax exemption they are seeking, basically a lifetime exemption, they want to file an application before December 31,” she said.
Under current law, green energy companies have an exemption from school, municipal and state property tax as long as the farm operates. Wind farms in Kansas have historically made “payments in lieu of taxes” to local counties.
That changes January 1, when a new state law goes into effect that limits the property tax exemption on a wind farm to 10 years.
Commissioners asked James to reach out to Lincoln County Attorney Jennifer O’Hare, who has experience in negotiating wind agreements for counties.
“We’re excited about the wind farm if it does come here, and I think it is a definite advantage,” said Commissioner Ed Splichal.
“We’re dealing with a reputable company, but we want to know that we’re getting the best for the county as a whole, and the farmers and landowners, too.”
James said that Republic County is unique because it does not have zoning regulations in place.
“We want to be in contact with Washington and other counties, so we have the biggest pool of information we can get,” she said.
NextEra, based in Juno Beach FL, is the largest wind generator in North America. As of 2015, the company owned wind facilities in Ellis, Ness, Rush, Trego and Gray counties, and had two projects under development in Pratt and Kingman counties. NextEra also owns the Steele Flats farm in Jefferson and Gage counties in Nebraska. Visit http://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/what/wind.shtml for more information.