• Last modified 1986 days ago (Feb. 14, 2019)


Southern wind farm could launch next year

Staff writer

A wind farm nearly 15 years in the discussion and planning stages looks to begin spinning rotors, instead of wheels, by the middle of next year.

The Expedition Wind Farm project being developed by National Renewable Solutions, based in Wayzata, Minnesota, was originally the brainchild of Florence resident Rex Savage. Under Savage’s hand, the idea notched forward but didn’t reach construction.

In July 2018, the former Windborne Energy project was purchased by National Renewable Solutions, which has steadily pushed to bring the wind farm to fruition.

Patrick Pelstring, company president and CEO, and Troy Bushman, project developer, spoke to county commissioners Monday about the project that will span 29,000 acres in the southeast to south central portion of the county.

It was not their first appearance before commissioners.

“Collectively we have been in front of the commission five times,” Pelstring said.

The company expects to install 80 to 90 towers in its first Kansas project, he said.

The most appealing aspect of the former Windborne Energy project was that a fully-studied interconnection agreement was already in place, Pelstring said.

National Renewable Solutions has completed eight wind farm projects and has seven more in development. It is active in solar development as well.

“We work closely with the landowners and the community,” Pelstring said. “We really believe it’s going to be a win/win.”

Pelstring told commissioners the company would soon present on overview of the project to be specific about what the company plans.

“I want to be really clear about the decisions that have been made,” he said. “We will keep you informed.”

Additionally, company officials will meet with commissioners whenever appropriate or whenever commissioners ask.

The company is talking with two contractors about building the towers, and has told them they want the contractors to be responsive to the county.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said the county has been hearing about a wind farm in that location “for a lot of years.”

“There’s a lot of people, when we get to this stage, they have a lot of concerns,” Dallke said.

Commissioner chairman Kent Becker said one concern he hears is how the towers might affect farming practices.

“The area is more farmland than grassland,” Becker said.

Wichita lawyer Patricia Voth, on hand with company officials, said a public meeting will be held to answer questions from the public.

Commissioner Dianne Novak asked if lease contracts are for 90 years. Pelstring answered leases are for 45 years.

Novak also asked if road agreements would be struck.

“Our plan is to give you a comprehensive agreement consistent with how other wind farms operate,” he said.

National Renewable Solutions would prefer the county hire an in-house engineer to work with the project instead of an outside engineering agency, as the county hired for the Diamond Vista wind farm in the northern section of the county.

Diamond Vista developers repeatedly told commissioners that Kirkham Michael, the company selected for engineering services, charged rates higher than anticipated.

Last modified Feb. 14, 2019