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George: Size of proposed wind farm may double

SPEARVILLE Ñ Kansas State Representative Pat George said Saturday he has "heard talk" that the proposed new wind farm to be constructed near Spearville Ð "the City of Windmills" Ñ eventually will double in size.

"I’ve heard that they possibly may come back and double the number of towers," said George, who represents District 119 in the Kansas House of Representatives.

At present, 67 towers with blades that will whirl in the prairie wind are proposed for the Spearville wind farm, scheduled to be completed by Oct. 1, 2006.

George did not reveal the source of his information, but it seems more than idle speculation considering the fact that Kansas City Power & Light has leased land for the $160 million project not only in Ford County, but also in Hodgeman County.

Spearville farmer Frank Mages said he has leased land in both Ford and Hodgeman Counties to be used eventually for the wind farm. He admitted that a large number of acres of his land have been leased, although he wouldn’t reveal how many.

"My understanding is that they (Kansas City Power & Light) will expand in years to come if it is profitable," Mages said.

More than 70 farmers have signed lease contracts with KCP&L for the farm, which is to be built by enXco Inc., a California firm, on 5,000 acres (10 square miles) north of Spearville and U.S. Highway 50.

"The 70 to 72 landowners are getting a big boost because they will be paid... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
"I’ve heard that they possibly may come back and double the number of towers," said George, who represents District 119 in the Kansas House of Representatives.

At present, 67 towers with blades that will whirl in the prairie wind are proposed for the Spearville wind farm, scheduled to be completed by Oct. 1, 2006.

George did not reveal the source of his information, but it seems more than idle speculation considering the fact that Kansas City Power & Light has leased land for the $160 million project not only in Ford County, but also in Hodgeman County.

Spearville farmer Frank Mages said he has leased land in both Ford and Hodgeman Counties to be used eventually for the wind farm. He admitted that a large number of acres of his land have been leased, although he wouldn’t reveal how many.

"My understanding is that they (Kansas City Power & Light) will expand in years to come if it is profitable," Mages said.

More than 70 farmers have signed lease contracts with KCP&L for the farm, which is to be built by enXco Inc., a California firm, on 5,000 acres (10 square miles) north of Spearville and U.S. Highway 50.

"The 70 to 72 landowners are getting a big boost because they will be paid $3,750 per tower each year," disclosed Kermit Froetschner, who said he had leased 500 acres to KCP& L three and a half years ago.

"They can put two towers on a quarter of land," Froetschner explained. "That beats farming, and I’m about to retire anyway. I’ve farmed my land for 42 years.

"I guess you could say I spearheaded the wind farm," he added. "I’ve visited half a dozen wind farms, and enXco has been working on this for two years. It’s a big deal, and it took a long time. They had to find somebody to buy the electricity."

The newly-created Spearville Wind Energy Facility will furnish energy to KCP&L to sell to its customers in the Kansas City area.

Froetschner projected that construction of the wind farm’s million dollar pieces of gigantic equipment will continue for six months "with a lot of people working on it and probably 10 full-time workers after that."

George said the new project should bring in "maybe 50 people to build these things and 11 or 12 permanent jobs after the construction." He estimated the Spearville School District, USD 381, will benefit "by as much as $100,000 a year," and said that "payments also will be made to Ford County and the Spearville township."

EnXco will host a congratulatory dinner at the St. John Parish Center in Spearville Tuesday night for the 70 or so landowners involved with the project. Members of the city council and school board also will attend, and George said he would be on hand as well.

"We have just formed an energy committee on a state-wide level that is going to promote wind farms," the area state representative disclosed.

"The Select Joint Committee on Energy had its first meeting last week," he related. "They’re going to find a way to promote ethanol plants and wind farms, and renewable products like solar energy. I called a couple of members and informed them about the Spearville wind farm."

George said he also attended a legislative forum last week with seven state representatives and senators, adding, "Everybody was talking about the Spearville wind farm. We need a little bit of good news like this every once in a while."

"It’s about time," declared Mages. "This project has been lingering for years. Finally, Ford County will see it happen. Personally, I think it will be good for the community. It sounds like they are going to provide some financial aid to schools and to the county."

Froetschner said he thought Spearville was successful in landing the wind farm because "enXco was ready for it, and we welcomed it. The Flint Hills in eastern Kansas didn’t want the wind farm, and thanks to their negativity, we got it.

"I shook a man’s hand once who said he didn’t want the wind farm, and I said, ‘thanks!’ ExXco put in a lot of midnight oil on this, and I’m glad it all came together. The only problem I can see is that you might look at the turbines too long and run off the road."

Another landowner who has committed to the project is Ronald Hornung, who has farmed north of Spearville for 25 years.

"They have had my land leased for the last three years," said Hornung, who leased 560 acres of land "for an indefinite period, for as long as they make the lease payments."

"Originally, it was supposed to be a 150 megawatts wind farm, but it was downsized to 100.5 megawatts," he pointed out. "I think that’s because that was all the power they could sell at this time.

"It’s going to put some jobs and revenue into the area," Hornung added. "I certainly hope they keep paying the abatement rather than property taxes."

The 70 some landowners are being paid for the right of Kansas City Power & Light to install turbines that each generate 1.5 megawatts of power on their land. Hornung said he didn’t know for sure exactly how many landowners are involved.

"I’m just a clodhopper out here looking for information too," he said. "I know they do have more acres leased than they are going to be using now. But if the wind doesn’t blow, there won’t be any power. But that’s why they’re locating the wind farm out here. We usually have a lot of wind."

That’s the understatement of the new century. Straight line winds have sheared in half the telephone poles north of U.S. Highway 50 between Spearville and Wright twice in the past three years Ð most recently in November -- peeling roofs from garages and other structures in the Spearville area as if they were pieces of paper.

According to Jim Johnson, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Dodge City, "Straight line winds or microbursts reach wind speeds of between 150 to 200 miles per hour, and occur far more often in this part of the country than tornadoes."

But not to worry. Johnson said wind farm turbines "are engineered to take high wind speeds," and Froetschner claimed that "computers shut the turbines down after the wind reaches a certain high speed."

Source: http://dodgeglobe.com/stori...

DEC 19 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/760-george-size-of-proposed-wind-farm-may-double
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