The Garden City Telegram
11/26/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Wind win

Finney County EMS venture makes sense for taxpayers.

Wind farm construction can be a tricky and even dangerous proposition.

Those involved in such ventures know the safety of their workers is paramount. With a wind farm under construction in the region, the Finney County Commission seized an opportunity to offer an important assist with emergency services, while also bringing welcome revenue to the community.

Finney County signed a contract with Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Inc. (RES) to have county Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provide on-site standby service during construction of the wind farm.

RES is general contractor for the Buffalo Dunes wind-farm development, one calling for construction of 135 wind turbines that will cover more than 40,000 acres in Finney, Haskell and Grant counties.

So far, the county has received about $245,180 in revenue from the arrangement, with a couple of months to go. Dollars paid for the service go to the county's ambulance fund.

Initial estimates showed the county could see up to $175,000 in profit by the end of the contract. The additional funds will be used for needed work on the county's existing ambulance fleet, and possibly a new ambulance — a good deal for local taxpayers who otherwise would be left to cover those expenses.

The deal also brought an opportunity for Finney County to aid neighboring counties that don't have the manpower or equipment to provide the service in such a way.

Local emergency management officials also said the standby service at the wind farm isn't leaving the county's EMS force shorthanded, so the number of responders when local emergencies occur remains adequate.

Wind farms — including the one in the works in southwest Kansas — promise to produce a windfall in a variety of ways.

As Kansas and the rest of the nation pursue a more diversified energy strategy, wind has become one of the more sought-after resources. Local communities benefit from the needed electricity, jobs and related business ventures brought by the new wind projects.

In this instance, a wind-farm development is generating welcome revenue in yet another way. As a result, local taxpayers will reap the positive fallout.

Good for Finney County.