wind farm community fund

Members of the Nodaway County Commission, seated, along with representatives of Tenaska, an energy company currently developing a wind farm between Maryville and the Iowa Line, are shown after approving establishment of a Community Fund that will funnel $300,000 into local civic improvement efforts over the next 20 years. Pictured from left: North District Commissioner Chris Burns, Monte D. Ten Kley (Tenaska), Presiding Commissioner Bill Walker, Ryan T. Choquette (Tenaska) and North District Commissioner Robert Stiens.

MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Nodaway County Commission has accepted a Community Fund donation from Omaha-based Tenaska, an energy company in the process of developing a 100-plus-turbine wind farm spreading north from Maryville to the Iowa line.

Monte D. Ten Kley, Tenaska’s director of strategic development and acquisitions, participated in a brief ceremony in the commission chambers during which commissioners signed documents formalizing the gift, which consists of $15,000 a year over 20 years for a total of $300,000.

Within certain guidelines, the commission can spend the money on a variety of community development and public service activities and institutions, including youth programs; initiatives benefitting the disadvantaged; community facilities, such as gathering places and parks; energy-related, disaster

relief; capital assets, such as snowplows and emergency vehicles; and first-responder resources.

Restrictions prohibit funds from being spent in support of churches, religious organizations or political activities.

Community Fund dollars can be distributed by the commission to townships and municipalities within Nodaway County, provided that the money is earmarked for permitted uses such as those listed above.

The donation came following a lengthy wind farm approval process that included a public hearing and a commission vote signaling the three-member governing board’s support of the project. Those actions mean wind farm development could have proceeded without the gift.

Tenaska public relations officer Timberley Ross said creation of the fund was intended solely to demonstrate “our intention to be a good business neighbor.”

She added that the fund is the first such gift bestowed by Tenaska, but that similar corporate donations are becoming common across the wind energy industry.

“This wasn’t contingent on anything else that we needed to have approved by the county,” Ross said. “We just felt that we wanted to give back to the community.”

Ross continued that the Clear Creek Energy Center, Tenaska’s name for the Nodaway County effort, is the furthest along of four wind projects undertaken by the company and considered to be in “advanced development.” She said several other enterprises, less advanced, are underway across the Midwest.

In addition to establishing the Community Fund, Ten Kley also introduced the commission to Ryan T. Choquette, a mechanical engineer who will serve as Clear Creek project manager.

Ten Kley said Choquette is assuming hands-on management of all phases of wind farm construction, including rural road upgrades and repairs.

Turbine installation is set for late summer or early fall with the 242-megawatt center set to go online either late this year or sometime in 2020. When completed, the energy center will consist of 111 turbines rated at two to three megawatts each.

Construction cost is estimated at between $200 million and $300 million, and Tenaska says the installation will generate more than $1.2 million in local tax revenue annually for various entities, including schools, municipalities and rural fire protection districts.

Lease payments to county residents who own land on which the turbines will stand are to total another $1.2 million. Each turbine stands on roughly two-thirds of an acre.

Clear Creek’s installation phase will create an estimated 200 construction jobs. Once operational, the wind farm will be staffed by a team of 15 locally based technicians.

The wind farm’s productive life is estimated at 30 years. At the end of that time, according to a Tenaska release, the center could either be repowered or demolished using funds already obligated by the company for that purpose.

If the turbines are removed, leased installation sites would revert to the control of the landowners.

When completed, the energy enter will be Nodaway’s third wind farm.

Also under development is a 238-megawatt project proposed by Tradewind Energy of Lenexa, Kansas, which plans to begin construction this spring.

When completed, the installation — known as the White Cloud Wind Project — will embrace around 100 turbines spread out over approximately 40,000 acres.

Already online is Conception Wind Farm, which was developed by Wind Capital Group.

Commissioned in 2008 and consisting of 24 turbines rated to generate a total of 50 megawatts, Conception Wind farm spreads out over pastures and fields in eastern Nodaway County near the small communities of Conception, Conception Junction and Clyde.

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Staff writer Anthony Brown can be reached at tbrown@maryvilledailyforum.com or by calling the newspaper at 660.562.2424.