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Ameren terminates Atchison County wind project expected to create hundreds of jobs

   

Ameren Missouri reversed course on a wind facility project in Atchison County, which was expected to create hundreds of jobs, due to “unacceptably high costs,” the electric company announced Thursday. 

The original project was to develop an up-to 157 megawatt wind facility in the northwestern corner of the state. It was also supposed to create about 280 jobs, from the construction to more permanent opportunities once the turbines were in service. 

But Ameren said it mutually agreed with EDF Renewables, Inc., which was developing the project, to forgo it. 

“Significant upgrades would have been required on the transmission system to accommodate this project, leading to unacceptably high costs,” Michael Moehn, chairman and president of Ameren Missouri said in a statement. “While we’re focused on incorporating more renewable energy, we also have to be good financial stewards for our customers, who trust us to provide safe, reliable energy while keeping rates stable and predictable.” 

“While it’s disappointing we will not be moving forward with this project, we remain focused on seeing other, larger projects through to the finish line,” Moehn said. 

When Ameren announced its plan to acquire the project in October 2018, it projected the wind facility would power about 47,000 homes when it became operational by 2020. 

Ameren Missouri said it still has a goal of owning at least 700 megawatts of new wind generation by 2021 — including with a planned 300 megawatt facility in Atchison County awaiting a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Public Service Commission (PSC). 

The electric company is also working on an up to 400 megawatt facility in Adair and Schuyler Counties which already has PSC approval. 

The projects represent an estimated $1.2 billion in investments, Ameren said in a news release.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill ensuring property taxes collected on wind farms remain local — even if it is owned by a public utility company.

“Rural districts like the one I represent see wind farm developments as a way to provide for the country; property taxes help fund roads, public education, and other programs that they might not otherwise be able to afford,” Rep. Allen Andrews, the Republican who represents part of Atchison County, previously said of the bill he championed. “Missouri counties should keep their tax money local.” 

Since Ameren doesn’t service Atchison County, this bill would ensure property taxes collected on the station it is developing would remain in northwest Missouri.

The bill also establishes a task force — three members from the House, three from the Senate, and two from county government with experience in wind energy valuations — to hold hearings and conduct research on wind farms that will be presented to the General Assembly by the end of 2019.