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Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC has signed an agreement with the Ranchland Trust of Kansas (RTK) and The Nature Conservancy of Kansas to invest in prairie ecosystem conservation.

Horizon Wind Energy will invest in a 20,000-acre offsite habitat restoration program, including an anticipated 13,100 acres of permanent conservation easements, which will benefit numerous species of grassland birds, with targeted benefits for the greater prairie-chicken. Horizon's investment agreement, brokered by Wayne Walker Conservation Consulting LLC, will supplement additional investment provided by wildlife conservation groups and state and federal agencies.

The purpose of this venture is to offset the potential onsite impacts of Horizon's Meridian Way Wind Farm - a project with 201 MW of installed capacity - on the greater prairie-chicken and other grassland species. According to the agreement, the conservancy may advance loans to RTK, if needed, to assure timely completion of major habitat restoration and protection work. RTK will hold and manage the associated conservation easements.

"In addition to the habitat rehabilitation and protection benefits, it also sets a solid standard for ecologically responsible wind energy development," says Allan Pollom, the conservancy's Kansas director. "I would urge all wind developers and power purchasers to embrace the reality that concern for our environment extends well beyond the issue of air emissions. We applaud the Ranchland Trust of Kansas for their leadership, as well as Horizon for their enlightened approach to this initiative."

Based upon scientific findings, Horizon Wind Energy committed to fund a voluntary conservation program and included the cost of the ecological offsets program into the wind farm's financial model. When the company responded to utilities' requests for proposals for wind energy, the energy price internalized the projected local environmental impact, which is typically treated as an externality in traditional economic models.

SOURCE: Horizon Wind Energy



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