Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Power plant would require upgrade in county roads

August 15, 2001

The remote location being considered as a possible site for Duke Energy to build a power plant poses an obstacle in itself.

But not it's not an insurmountable one, said Rick Rhodes, representative of the Atlanta-based energy corporation.

The site that Duke is eyeing is at 195th Street and Bauserman Road, a rural area about 10 miles north of Tonganoxie. To reach the site, a one-mile stretch of undulating road must be traversed. This one-lane gravel road would not be suitable during a power plant's construction phase.

"Construction of these facilities require what we call heavy loads," Rhodes said. "The road leading to the site would have to support the moving in of the equipment."

Leavenworth County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the roads at 11 a.m. Thursday at the courthouse, 300 Spruce, Leavenworth.

Gary Carlson, executive director of Leavenworth Area Development, said the heaviest traffic would be the trucks carrying the two turbine engines.

"We've been told by Duke's consultant that they weigh 317 tons each," Carlson said.

Carlson said he has discussed with county commissioners the possibility of improving the one-mile stretch of Bauserman.

"We don't yet know what kind of improvements are necessary," Carlson said. "It could maybe just be cleaning out some trees and grading the road. But it could be that it needs a hard surface like chip and seal or asphalt and that could cost up to half a million dollars."

One means of financing the improvement would be to create a benefit district in which the beneficiary, Duke Energy, would be ultimately responsible for paying for the work.

"The county could create a benefit district and issue special assessment bonds and have the road improved," Carlson said. "The bonds would be paid by the beneficiary of the improvements, Duke Energy."

Carlson said the payment shouldn't hurt the corporation, in part because a new state law provides a 12-year tax abatement on construction of new merchant power plants.

The state law, Carlson noted, would save the corporation an estimated $5 million in property taxes for 12 years. During this time, he said, they could easily pay off road improvements. By state law, Carlson said, benefit district bonds have to be repaid within 10 years.

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