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  • Last modified 13 days ago (Oct. 8, 2020)

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Lawsuit over road maintenance even more likely

Staff writer

After months of impasse over the condition of Diamond Vista wind farm haul route roads, the county is apparently inching closer to filing a lawsuit against wind farm parent company Enel Green Power North America.

Wichita lawyer Pat Hughes, hired by the county to handle actions against Enel, has had frequent closed-door meetings with county commissioners in recent weeks to discuss pending litigation. Hughes handles no other county business.

No discussion has taken place in open meetings.

For months, the county and officers of Enel have been at odds over whether the wind farm has fulfilled its obligations in the road maintenance agreement forged before construction began.

Many discussions have been held between commissioners, Enel, engineering consultant Kirkham Michaels, hired by the county to oversee road maintenance, and lawyers for both Enel and the county. Many of the discussions have been held behind closed doors.

A year ago, Kirkham Michaels inspected the roads and estimated it would cost $473,020 to repair remaining damages to 350th, 360th, Chisholm Trail, Diamond, Eagle, 340th, Indigo, Limestone, and Pawnee Rds.

Discussions between the county and the wind farm remained contentious, both over the amount of money Enel has paid for Kirkham Michaels’ services, and over the fact some damages were caused by storms.

County counsel Brad Jantz warned Enel early on in the discussions that litigation could result if a resolution to the issue could not be found.

“Diamond Vista landowners can attest that many of the roads in the wind farm footprint are in a better condition now than they were before Enel Green Power arrived,” Enel project manager Jeff Pimer said. “Still, we take seriously our obligations under the road maintenance agreement and have actively engaged with county officials in pursuit of a mutually agreeable outcome.

“We have requested additional information to validate the claimed costs under the post-construction inventory, but as a gesture of good faith we have offered to pay the outstanding amounts addressed in the August release of the post-construction inventory and bring this matter to a close.

“We are grateful for our partnership with Marion County and look forward to many more years of generating value for this community.”

Last modified Oct. 8, 2020

 

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