Purchase photos

Commissioners concerned with chickens on energy project

5/29/2014

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The Ellis County Joint Planning Commission received an update on progress of the Buckeye wind energy project north of Interstate 70 between Hays and Ellis during Wednesday's meeting at 601 Main.

The report said, in part, wildlife monitoring was being conducted, and power marketing efforts have yielded a wide variety of interests.

One commissioner wondered if recent developments involving the lesser prairie chicken could be slowing work on the project.

"That is what is taking so long," said Karen Purvis of Ellis County environmental planning and zoning. "I think that is what the major holdup is."

On March 27, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.

Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund told commissioners his view was selling the electricity was more of an issue.

"I think it's more that they haven't sold the power," he said. "Why would you begin construction on anything until you have some way to sell the end product.

"They don't have a power purchase agreement, but Southwest Power Pool has changed their requirements so you don't need one any more. You can sell it on the open market, but then you're subject to the ups and downs of the market every single day when you do that. It's not as solid a revenue stream."

Buckeye Wind Energy LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC. The 200-watt Ellis County project, which covers approximately 28,500 acres, would be the equivalent of powering 104,000 homes.

A spokesman for Invenergy was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

In other business:

* Three planning commission position terms expire next month. Commissioner Marcy McClelland has expressed a desire to continue on the board, while new appointments will be needed to replace commissioners Brandon Pfeifer and Kirk Dickinson. Sund informed the commission county commissioners Dean Haselhorst and Swede Holmgren each have a list of people interested in serving on the board. Their terms would begin in July.

* The June meeting has been canceled. The next scheduled meeting is July 23.