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Wind farm blowing into Ellis County

11/26/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The Ellis County Commission has approved three agreements for a wind farm project north of Interstate 70, between Ellis and Hays.

In a special meeting Monday morning at the Ellis County Courthouse, commissioners approved resolutions for road maintenance, payment in lieu of taxes and decommissioning agreements with Buckeye Wind Energy LLC.

"I think all three of these agreements represent a good balance between protecting the interests of the county as well as not overburdening the project," said Dennis Davidson, legal counsel for the county regarding wind issues.

The 200-megawatt project, which would be the equivalent of powering 104,000 homes, has a total area of approximately 28,500 acres.

In the past, there has been opposition -- and lawsuits -- regarding wind farms in the county.

"This has been in the works for seven years," Commissioner Swede Holmgren said. "Finally, to come in on the 25th of November and say you're now clear to sink a spade in the ground and start construction. Hopefully, we have won over some of those folks who weren't in favor of wind early on."

"I think it's just a great day for the county, to sign these documents finally, after seven years," Chairman Dean Haselhorst said.

Another wind farm proposed by a different developer southwest of Hays several years ago was met with opposition. The county plans to ask the court to lift a stay order for that project, which has been stagnant for years.

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund said signing the agreements in Monday's special meeting, rather than waiting until next week's regular meeting, gives the developer more time to start construction by the end of the year.

"It just gives them one more week to implement their construction schedule," he said. "They need to have part of the construction effort done before the end of the year in order to qualify for federal tax credits."