Potential wind farm draws a crowd in Haven, Kansas

Source: By Michael Stavola, The Hutchinson News • Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2017

HAVEN — Strangely enough, the area a Florida energy company revealed Thursday night for a potential wind farm in southeast Reno County vaguely resembled the peninsula state.

More than 100 people attended NextEra Energy’s open house at the Haven Community Center, 215 S. Reno in Haven. Most, at some point, pointed at the maps to see if their property fell within the roughly 29,000 acres.

The large area will eventually dwindle down, as existing environmental concerns make certain space unusable, and as some landowners deny leases to their land, spokesperson Rebecca Rivera said.

The area is east of Yoder Road and within Sumner and Haven townships.

In all, NextEra Energy is proposing a 200- to 300-megawatt wind farm containing approximately 100 wind turbines. Project Director Sam Massey said the industry standard is about $4,500 a year per megawatt in payments to landowners. Landowners could also receive money for their land used to store or transmit energy from the turbines.

The average wind in that area, Massey said, is 15.7 mph.

Landowners have already begun to sign contracts with NextEra Energy. The company has also prodded landowners about solar panels.

At least one family expressed mixed feelings about the project.

“I am very much against it,” said Dorn Moore, who had a NextEra Energy contract in hand. Moore said the contract is cumbersome and favors the energy company. She also said the 3 percent annual increase might not cover future inflation.

Moore’s uncle, David Ahrens, said he was considering leasing out some of his 360 acres in Haven. The farmer said it would be steady income in years of unsteady yields.

The contracts could have as much as a 96-year life. That’s if NextEra Energy wants to resign its lease. Rivera said the contracts have a removal clause to get rid of the wind turbine if the company decided not to continue the lease.

The company makes money by selling its energy to wholesale companies, like Westar Energy. A NextEra Energy official said the company does not currently have a buyer.

NextEra Energy has been in Kansas since 2001 and currently operates six wind projects in the state.

The most recent developments were the 208 megawatt Ninnescah Wind Farm and 206 megawatt Kingman Wind Farm, in Pratt and Kingman counties, respectively, which went into operation at the end of 2016.

Staff writer John Green contributed to this story.