By Kathy Hanks
SPEARVILLE—October 15, 2004—Residents in this community might do backflips in the wind, they're so excited about the prospect of a wind farm being built north of their town.
Renewal of federal tax credits for wind generation last week has reopened the door for development of a wind farm here, developers said.
However, said Kermit Froetschner, a local farmer instrumental in bringing enXco Development Corporation of California to the community, an electrical company still must sign on the dotted line to buy the electricity, and construction must be completed before the end of 2005.
"They have to sign a 30-year lease to buy the electricity," said Froetschner, who plans to lease some of his ground for the wind turbine towers to stand on.
"The tax credit just got the ball moving. Now that they have federal tax credits, they still have to have somebody sign their name," Froetschner said.
According to Ian Krygowski with enXco, the recent decision to extend tax credits through 2005 will allow the construction of the wind project, which has been in the making for more than a year.
The Ford County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the renewal of its 2004 permit to construct the wind farm, according to Beverly Temaat, board of education president with USD 381.
"We were delighted to hear the news out of Washington last week about the tax credit," Temaat said. "A group of people began working on the wind energy project a few months before the Montezuma Wind Farm began construction. City officials and the local school board began looking at different types of economic development and defined wind energy as a possibility. In April 2003, we began working diligently on the project."
According to Temaat, Froetschner sent letters to wind energy companies and kept at it.
"enXco came in because we have a good substation to hook into for electricity about half a mile north of town, and that was a plus to get started," Froestschner said. "Plus we have level ground, wind and willing farmers."
Froestschner will be reimbursed per tower per year on his ground, depending on the size of the generator. He estimated that on 160 acres they would take up six acres per quarter-section. All but 4 percent of the ground still could be farmed.
"enXco has 15,000 acres signed up for generators," Temaat said.
According to Nancy Tronsgard with enXco's Midwest office in Minneapolis, Minn., the company is waiting to sign a contract with a utility company. She said several are interested.
"We are excited because this will provide sustained and diversified economic growth not only for the Spearville school district, but the county and surrounding region for many years into the future," Temaat said. "In lieu of taxes, enXco has historically provided funds for school districts and cities that are within the scope of their projects."
Temaat said they estimated about 35 to 40 permanent jobs would be added to the community after the project was completed.
"But during the construction stage there will be an enormous number of employees," Temaat said. "It will have a huge impact."
The Spearville plant will be capable of producing up to 150 megawatts of wind power for Kansas utilities, enough electricity for about 70,000 users on a yearly basis, according to Steve Peluso, manager of enXco power sales, in a press release issued by the company.
"A hundred percent of the people are in favor of it out here," Froetschner said. "In the Flint Hills they have been fighting them. They don't want to disturb their prairie, so this is the best spot."