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Wind farm decision Sept. 4

By KALEY LYON

Hays Daily News

Talk of the proposed wind farm again breezed into Ellis County Commission chambers Monday morning.

The final decision, however, has been postponed until early September. Dennis R. Davidson, county counselor for the application, requested additional time to prepare, county chairman Vernon Berens said.

"We'll meet with our attorney this week and set up a date," Berens said. "Tentatively, we've set up a date for Sept. 4. The bottom line is we'll make a decision."

Iberdrola drafted a six-page document of conditions the company is prepared to offer, provided the county grants the conditional-use zoning permit.

Project manager Krista Gordon discussed the document in an agenda insert item at the end of the meeting.

The conditions are similar to the agreement Butler County entered regarding the Elk River Wind Project, she said. That project went online in 2005.

"A lot of these are in response to questions raised by you all, as well as members of the community," Gordon said.

The prepared conditions could serve as a starting point for negotiations, but nothing is final until the county commission grants its approval.

Included in the document, which The Hays Daily News obtained from the Ellis County Clerk on Monday, is a proposed decommissioning agreement.

According to the document, the company suggested a qualified letter of credit in the amount of $20,000 per turbine to provide security for decommissioning costs.

The cost of decommissioning each generator usually is "a wash," Gordon said. The price obtained for salvage materials could match or exceed the cost of deconstruction, she said.

Turbine foundations will be removed to 3 feet below ground level, according to the document.

Depending on which concrete foundation would be selected for installation, equipment could be installed between 8 and 30 feet below ground, Gordon said.

"The idea here is, we want to remove above-ground facilities and make sure the land can be used for its original use, agriculture, without being very intrusive," she said. "By leaving the foundations below there, we can minimize disturbance to the ground and to agriculture."

The decommissioning security would be provided before construction begins, the document states. The agreement also documents the promise made by the company to double setback distances between turbines and residences. The distance required by Ellis County zoning regulations is 1,000 feet.

An agreement for payment in lieu of taxes, which could benefit the county's general fund, will be negotiated in a separate document if the permit is granted, she said.

Commissioners requested Gordon to return next week so they will have a chance to review the document and have their questions answered.

Berens suggested individual meetings, but commissioner Perry Henman said he'd prefer to keep the conversation on the record.

"I'd just as soon meet with her as a group like this," he said.

Gordon is scheduled to appear before the commissioners at 10:30 a.m. Monday morning.

Reporter Kaley Lyon can be reached at (785) 628-1081, Ext. 138, or by e-mail at

klyon@dailynews.net.