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Wind Project Development Agreement Nearing Completion
By Echo Menges
According to the commissioners, no other wind project in the state of Missouri includes the setback distances the Knox County Commission has been able to negotiate into the county development agreement contract between the Commission and Cordelio concerning the NEMO Wind Project.
The Commission has looked closely at every county contract where wind projects are concerned throughout the state. They feel confident their diligence has paid off.
“The closest (a wind turbine) could be to a residence is 1400 feet, if they sign a waiver to get it that close. If the homeowner does not sign the waiver, it’s 1750 (feet),” said Eastern District Commissioner Ronnie Leckbee.
According to Leckbee, setback distances from occupied dwellings for similar projects throughout the state average only 500 feet.
All of that research didn’t stop with set back distances. The Commission visited with other commissioners in Missouri learning what went well during negotiations, and what didn’t, what those commissioners wish they would have included, and gauged how the process played out through the construction processes.
Other concessions the Commission has been able to negotiate include extra money for rock on Knox County roads, road stabilization measures before, during and after the project, and decommissioning agreements if or when the project comes to an end. Light mitigation, to keep the blinking red lights from blinking all of the time and only when there is low flying aircrafts in vicinity has also been added. And, they have negotiated noise and shadow flicker restrictions to minimize the project impact to residents in the area.
“We’re getting over $60,000 per year for rock in (the wind project) footprint with a two percent increase every year,” said Leckbee. “(For) the life of the project.”
The Commission also tried to predict and plan for county road maintenance headaches.
“When they’re doing maintenance on the road, to prep the roads, if any hill has to be topped down they have to stabilize that back and three-to-one the ditches out. If they cannot do that in our right-of-ways, then they have to have the landowner’s permission to continue that – so we don’t have any slumpage in the ground, runoffs, different things like that – to make sure everything is not impacted by the change,” said Leckbee.
The commission added this road maintenance detail after learning about negative effects of the road maintenance agreement, or lack of, for a wind project in Nodaway County.
“Everything we got in there is better than other contracts,” said Leckbee.
“This is by far better than any county’s (contract),” said Western District Commissioner Luther Green. “I’m happy with where it’s at.”
“We’ve done our due diligence and made sure Knox County is protected to the best of our ability,” said Leckbee. “The main thing that we have in these contracts (is) trying to negotiate the best that we can for the county, to make sure the impact of them is reduced, and to make sure the citizens are protected to the best of our ability.”
While the Commission claims they have been able to negotiate the most concessions from any wind project company in Missouri, those concessions only hold if the contracts are agreed upon and signed by both Cordelio and the Commission.
Negotiations are nearing an end and the Commission and Cordelio will release the final draft to the public a week or two ahead of the vote to finalize the agreement.
All three Knox County Commissioners have told The Edina Sentinel that if no other concessions are made, they are happy with the most recently agreed upon draft of the contract and feel it is “by far” the best wind project contract negotiated by any commission in the state.
The most recent drafts of the proposed contracts are public documents. Those drafts are available below.
(Editor’s Note: These DRAFTS are not official documents unless they are signed by the Commission and Cordelio representatives.)