County, NextEra finalize haul route
After approving the term sheet and site plan for the Soldier Creek Wind Farm in August 2019, the Nemaha County Commissioners announced Monday, Jan. 13 — following a 1-1/2 hour executive session — that they have finalized the haul route for the project.
The commissioners – Tim Burdiek, Gary Scoby and Dennis Henry – have been in negotiations with NextEra Energy Resources, through the county’s hired wind farm attorney James Neeld, on the definitive agreements since the term sheet and site were approved last year. While the haul route has been finalized, the road use agreement is still being negotiated.
Burdiek said township officials met with the commissioners on Friday, Jan. 10, at the Pioneer Building in Seneca. The township officials received maps of the haul route for their township. Burdiek said he encouraged the township officials to drive the roads.
“I suggested that the engineering firm [Cook, Flatt and Strobel], NextEra and the township representatives go drive the roads and get a good feel for what they want to do, and how they want to do it.”
Charity Henry of Seneca asked the commissioners if NextEra could begin hauling equipment on those roads before the final documents are approved.
“They can haul it down the roads, anything that is legal for anyone else to haul down them,” Burdiek said. “It’s just the heavy, heavy stuff that they can’t do until we get the road agreement done with them. If they are hauling a dozer or excavator, it’s not any different than anyone else doing the same thing.”
C. Henry also asked whether or not work had started on the decommissioning agreement, and D. Henry confirmed that it had.
Multiple patrons present at the meeting asked the commissioners about the status of the developing a comprehensive plan for Nemaha County.
“It’s going to happen eventually,” Burdiek said.
C. Henry also asked about the attorney’s fees that are being used for negotiations.
“Are they being reimbursed by NextEra?” C. Henry said.
“Up to $75,000,” Burdiek said.
“That’s what I was going to ask next, there is $75,000 alloted in the term sheet,” C. Henry said. “We’re probably burning a tremendous amount of that in negotiations process. So once we hit that, then anything over that is all county money that is going to have to be paid by the taxpayers?”
“Probably,” Burdiek said.
“And if we have any issues, we have to fight later that we have to fight a case because something didn’t go as planned from the agreements, then it is all taxpayer money having to foot that bill?” C. Henry said.
“It’s just like any other thing,” Burdiek said. “Not any different.”
“My frustration is that we couldn’t look at trying to fight for this project moving into the county,” C. Henry said, “Let’s say we couldn’t use taxpayer money to do that because some of the citizens want it, but now we might be on the other boat that now we’re using taxpayer money to negotiate contracts that are only benefiting a few in the county and doesn’t seem fair to me at all.”
“Duly noted,” Burdiek said.
“That bridge will be crossed when we encounter it,” Scoby said.
C. Henry then asked about the lifetime tax abatement or the 10-year tax abatement.
“The tax abatement, when will that be finalized as to what sort of tax abatement they will be getting?” C. Henry said.
“The State of Kansas will determine that,” Burdiek said. “I am not sure when that will be done.”
D. Henry said he believes that will be determined by the State of Kansas once all the agreements are signed.
A larger version of the haul route can be seen at the Nemaha County Clerk’s Office in Seneca.