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Public hearing April 10 for wind energy project

An April 10 public hearing has been scheduled to discuss revived plans to build a wind-energy facility west of Pawhuska.

Tradewind Energy filed an application last week for a conditional use permit needed to construct the facility — which is to be called Mustang Run Wind Project. Although specific details for the project have not yet been formally announced, the construction site is the same as for a 94-turbine facility for which another company advanced plans three years ago. The location runs from approximately 13 miles west of Pawhuska along US Highway 60 to just east of Burbank.

On its website, Lenexa, Kan.-based Tradewind lists Mustang Run as a 150-megawatt facility encompassing 16,000 acres. It indicates the turbine number as “to be determined.”

Officials at the Osage County Planning and Zoning Department said additional information about the proposal is expected in advance of the meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. in the Ag Building at the Osage County Fairgrounds. The Osage County Board of Zoning Adjustment will be meeting to consider the requested permit, which is required under the county’s wind-energy ordinance approved in 2011.

Last September, Tradewind purchased the earlier Osage Wind project from Wind Capital Group, a St. Louis firm which originated plans for the Osage County wind-energy facility nearly seven years ago.

Wind Capital’s proposal drew considerable opposition from Native American groups — led by the Osage Nation — as well as wildlife organizations. Strong resistance was built around the possible threat a large-scale wind development poses to the area’s eagle populations.

Another major area of concern focused on the possible irreparable damage that construction could cause to sensitive Native American cultural sites.

At the time of the project’s sale by Wind Capital, Osage Nation Assistant Principal Chief Scott BigHorse said the tribe intended to remain firm in its opposition to the project. BigHorse, who is now Principal Chief, also cited the foreign-ownership of the two wind-energy companies.

TradeWind Energy is an affiliate of Enel North America (EGP-NA) part of the Enel Group, a multinational conglomerate based in Italy. Enel is viewed as one of the most aggressive wind-development companies in the world.

“The Osage Nation is not opposed to renewable energy and in fact has plans to utilize renewables at our tribal headquarters,” BigHorse said. “Our dispute is over placing these large scale wind development projects at inappropriate locations, ones that will harm eagle populations and could decimate significant archaeological sites.”

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