Officials recently revealed new wind-energy developments in Osage County are under consideration by two different companies.
Feasibility studies are being conducted by Texas-based Amshore and Invenergy, out of Illinois, according to documents filed in connection with the proposed projects.
Amshore Osage is being considered for development on an approximately 60,000-acre tract located south of U.S. Highway 60 between Burbank and Fairfax. Officials of the company recently applied for a permit to build a mile-long service road on Arrowhead Ranch, where three meteorological towers have been collecting data related to the project.
Although more than 25 leasing agreements have been filed in connection with potential developments, Amshore officials say the company isn’t taken anything for granted.
Amshore executive Jeff Nieves said a land-use permit the company requested for the road project apparently caused some public misconceptions. In a recent letter to Osage County Planning Director Jake Bruno, Neves said the company did not consider the land-use permit to be tied to the conditional-use permit the company would need to actually begin construction of a wind-energy facility.
“We understand and respect that approval for a land use permit is separte and apart from the conditional use permit,” Neves said in the letter.
Invenergy is constructing two of the “met” towers on privately-owned property near Grainola. The Chicago-area firm initiated its preliminary studies about five years ago, but did not proceed with its development plans. In letter sent to Bruno earlier this month, Inenvenergy’s April Christenson indicated the towers would be providing data for a potential development she referred to by name as the Silver Spole Wind Energy Project.
Osage County’s granted a conditional-use permit in 2011 for Osage Wind, an 84-turbine wind energy facility that was constructed after surviving several legal challenges. The development was put into operation in May 2015 by Enel Green Power North America.
In May 2014, Osage County’s Board of Adjustment denied a second conditional-use permit sought by Mustang Run — a proposed development adjacent to Osage Wind. Mustang Run, which was reported to have close business connections to Osage Wind, has since been put forward as a totally independent venture.
TradeWind Energy, a Kansas-based company proposing Mustang Run, appealed the local board decision. In late 2014, the board’s rationale for denying the permit was rejected by a District Court Judge from Ottawa County, Robert Haney. Haney was specially-appointed to hear the Osage County case following recusals by several local judges. He ruled that the board had established no definite reasons to support its denial of Mustang Run’s permit request.
Two federal judges also ruled against legal challenges brought against the wind-energy developments by the Osage Nation.
An appeal of Haney’s decision by Osage County’s Board of Adjustment is under review the Oklahoma Supreme Court. According to Bruno, it seems unlikely any of the county wind projects will move forward until the court issues a ruling on the earlier projects.
The Osage Nation filed another suit in the case challenging the board of adjustment’s authority to issue a conditional-use permit. That suit also is under review by the state Supreme Court.
Pending expiration of tax incentives are considered to be possible motivational factors behind recent activity on the wind-turbine projects.