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Osage County wind project sold

A planned wind energy project in Osage County has been sold by the company that recently received a permit to construct the 150-megawatt facility near Burbank.

New owner of the proposed 94-turbine project is TradeWind Energy of Lenexa, Kan. The wind farm was referred to as Osage Wind by the former owner, Wind Capital Group of St. Louis. According to the TradeWind company website, the project will now to be known as Mustang Run.

The facility is to be located on 16,000 acres of leased prairie land along U.S. Highway 60 some 13 to 20 miles west of Pawhuska.

Early last month, Wind Capital paid the county approximately $165,000 to obtain a conditional-use permit allowing for the project to be built. County officials had voted approval for the permit two years earlier at a public hearing that drew a divided crowd of project supporters and opponents.

Wind Capital initiated its studies on the project more than five years ago and Osage County subsequently formulated an ordinance to regulate the wind-power industry. The county permit issued Aug. 7 stipulates that construction work must start at the site within 90 days.

The alternative-energy venture has drawn major opposition from Native American and wildlife groups. The Osage Nation first attempted to block construction with a federal lawsuit and is continuing its opposition of the project based on cultural issues. Recently, the tribe’s protests have centered around threats the project may pose to the area’s eagle populations.

Wind Capital estimated that the facility would provide the county with more than $30 million in property tax revenue over the next 20 years, give an economic boost to the area and create 250 construction jobs.

Calling the project “one of the most energetic wind development sites in northeast Oklahoma,” TradeWind is pointing out that the company also will be paying approximately $2 million a year in lease payments to the affected landowners.

While generating significant economic benefits to the community, “(t)he project is expected to have no material effect on any threatened and endangered species of birds or animals based on third-party studies commissioned by TradeWind Energy,” the company added.

Existing TradeWind projects include a 200-megawat Caney River Wind Farm about 10 miles west of Howard in Elk County, Kan. Constructed in 2011, the facility went on line in January 2012. Power generated at the site is sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Another Kansas facility operated by TradeWind is west of Salina and one under construction is located near Garden City. In Oklahoma, TradeWind previously built a 140-turbine wind farm northeast of Enid and it is constructing a facility near Hobart. The company also holds plans for another Osage County project in the Grainola-Foraker area.

Wind Capital was American firm when the project was first proposed, but it is now owned by Ireland-based NPR. The Irish company purchased an interest in 2008 from founder Tom Carnahan, a member of a politically-prominent Missouri family.

Carnahan stepped down as Wind Capital’s president in late 2011 after NPR gained majority control. He sold his remaining interests in the company three years later, although he reportedly remains active in the wind energy industry.

TradeWind Energy also has a foreign parent company. It is an American subsidiary of the Italian utility Enel, which is one of Europe’s largest providers of electricity.

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