Invenergy abandons wind turbine plan in Barry County

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Land leases canceled, ending prospects for development

Invenergy, the renewable energy company exploring a wind turbine project in northern Barry County, has opted against pursuing further development.

“Invenergy has decided to change course in Barry County,” said Meredith Jeffrey, manager of renewable development for Invenergy, in a statement to The Times.

The Monett Times first revealed the company’s plans in April 2019.

For nearly three years, the Chicago-based firm has pursued land lease contracts exploring the potential for building approximately 100 wind turbines between Cassville and Monett. These would have been approximately the same size was the first wind farm Empire District Electric built in Beaumont, Kan., using 100 2.5 megawatt wind turbines.

A company representative called Northern Barry County Commissioner Gary Schad two weeks ago with the news. Schad, himself a lease holder with the company, had been trying to contact a company representative for approximately six months to arrange a meeting for Dennis Pyle, Monett city administrator, to discuss concerns the City of Monett had over the proximity of turbines to the Monett Regional Airport.

“Our interest in meeting with them was to review their plans to see if the Monett Regional Airport would be impacted by the location of their turbines,” Pyle said. “That meeting never took place. As an electric service provider, the City of Monett is interested in renewable energy and expanding our resource mix that already includes wind, gas and coal resources. The city may have an interest in procuring a local source of wind energy, but we have to balance that with concerns for the operation and future expansion of our airport and electric generator’s potential impact on our airport tenants and users.

“The city of Monett certainly isn’t opposed to the placement of wind turbines in Barry and Lawrence counties, but we’d like for our concerns to be understood and addressed early in the planning stages.”

According to Barry County Recorder of Deeds Danielle Still, Invenergy secured 34 leases with 33 property owners for their project. A total of 23 cancellations came in electronically on Wednesday morning, Still said. She expected the remainder were awaiting notarization before she received cancellations on them as well.

Schad said those who signed up received a signing bonus and an annual fee, plus a larger amount if a test tower was placed on their property.

“I was on both sides of the fence on the issue,” Schad said. “On the sights and sounds, I was not a big fan of the turbines. I think there are better places farther west with fewer people that are better suited.

“[The turbines] would have been a real boost for rural schools and road districts. They would have seen a big increase in property tax revenues on the towers. They would be a real boost for rural schools that don’t see bigger assessments, like Monett.”

A number of naturalists expressed concerns about the threat of wind turbines to eagles that winter around Wheaton and Roaring River State Park.

Schad said he had not heard much about the eagles, but knew the company had concerns about damaging the local bat population. His father, Phil Schad, has two test towers on his property. Invenergy set up a trailer there as well with a radar mechanism to monitor bats and possibly detect movement by endangered bat species.

“The thing about this area is we’ve got the wind, but the demographics and geography just are not conducive for wind towers,” Schad said. “We’ve got too many small concentrations of homes and two airports. It’s not so good when you look at the details.”

Schad also reported the company representative expressed concern over how the wind turbine placement could impact low-level military jet training routes that crossed Barry County, a pattern unknown to city and county officials.

Officials in Sedgwick County, Kan., which includes Wichita, on Aug. 21, 2019, adopted a resolution blocking construction on wind turbines within 10 miles of an airport. The concerns focus on how turbulence from the turbines could have unknown consequences to air traffic.

Tom Chandler, regional manager for the Central Southwest with the Aircraft owners and Pilots Association, shared concerns with Purdy-based pilot Mark Ingram, who voiced concerns about how Invenergy’s wind turbines could impact his private airport.

“Most pilots and even airport operators don’t realize it yet, but this issue is threatening the vitality of airports across the country, especially in the Midwest,” Chandler said.

Invenergy held private meetings with landowners who were potential leasers, but no public sessions. Two invitation-only meetings were held in late 2018 and early 2019, one at the Monett City Park Casino and another at the Purdy school. Invenergy personnel also frequently changed, which made tracking the company’s plans more difficult.

As power producers and not as a utility, the company’s activities did not fall under oversight by the Missouri Public Service Commission.

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  • We are absolutely *so* blessed that they decided to turn tail and run!

    I have personal experience with wind development up in Northern Missouri 4 years ago, which caused us to relocate here to Shell Knob (in large part to escape the upcoming property devaluation and health issues).

    DISCLAIMER: I will be the 1st to admit I have no information about this particular wind development company. But I can tell you from research from what I've found over the years, all the rest operate similarly to my experience. If this company is unique, and that may be the case, they are the only one I've encountered.

    They sneak in on the down low, sign up influential folks quietly. They promise money for nothing.

    For your schools, helping the environment, money in your pocket. Well, until you try to pin them down on how much and when those school and tax payments will start..."we'll get back to you."

    I've seen them protest property tax evaluations and fight them for years...suddenly settling with a non-disclosure on terms. 5 days later they announce they sold the project to another company...connect the dots (reference: Union Star, Mo., please look it up).

    Those who jumped at the signing $, take a look at your contracts now they're void, because I'm sure you didn't before. Look for the effects clause (or similar in your contract).

    When they tried to sign me up in northern Missouri, the effects clause had over 10 health issues that I would agree to hold them harmless for. Even if my neighbor succumbed to one and wanted to sue me for them. You eat the bullet.

    Although salesmen will tell you any claims of health issues are junk science, then why this clause? SETBACK distances are CRITICAL!

    The World Health Organization (WHO), has announced wind turbine developments (I can't stand to call them a farm, because that implies productivity), cause several health issues (many the same ones you signed away your rights on...hmm?) LOOK IT UP!

    Anyway, I've researched this for years. I have personal experience with these developments.

    Wind is not reliable, yet is privy to HUGE subsidies from our taxpayer pockets (to investors...not US!).

    We all understand the 'grid' runs in realtime. When the sun goes down or the wind stops, traditional power must be immediately available to pick up the slack. That's simply how it works. Otherwise blackouts or worse happen.

    Although commercial wind & solar can start/stop on a dime, traditional power can't. Therefore, they must stay running idle constantly to pick up that slack on a moment's notice...and they don't get a dime for those costs because they're NOT generating power.

    **Please do your own research, think for yourself, make up your own mind**. Contact your attorney to see what you are giving away. Most contracts are for over 50 years, with renewals at THEIR discretion--you have no say!

    That's all I ask. I have not only researched this for years, but lived it. I can go on for hours on the huge lawsuits they bring to try and bankrupt rural counties to agree.

    -- Posted by IveSeenThisHorrorStoryBefore on Sun, Jun 14, 2020, at 9:59 PM
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