Company says it won’t pay townships $200,000
By John Sharp
of the Journal Star
BENSON – A wind farm developer who wants to construct a 79-turbine farm in rural Woodford County has been asked by three townships to pony up an additional $200,000, according to the company.
But Minneapolis-based Navitas Energy will not pay any kind of inducement fee, or extra money requested by the townships, thereby throwing a “big kink” in the overall wind farm project.
“We’re going to leave the roads in as good as shape as we found them,” Wanda Davies, project manager with Navitas, said about the company’s legal responsibilities. “We’re not going to pay $200,000.”
The inducement money was included in negotiations between Navitas and three Woodford County townships where roads will be affected by the wind farm – Greene, Panola and Clayton.
Navitas and the townships are negotiating a road agreement that could be ready by a Sept. 27 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, which will determine whether Navitas gets permits to construct the wind farm.
Because of all of the trucks rumbling into Woodford County, Navitas officials are entering into two separate road agreements with Woodford County and the townships, making the company legally responsible to repair damaged roads.
A road agreement with the county is all but approved and does not require any inducement money, Davies said.
“We believe the proposal we made to the wind farm developer is fair and adequately represents and protects the taxpayers and residents of the townships who will be extremely burdened by this project,” said Ottawa attorney Sheryl Kuzma, who represents the townships, adding that the $200,000 would go to each township’s general road funds.
“It’s just a fee that would go into the townships treasuries,” Davies said about the proposal. “It’s not based on any particular costs they will be paying.”
Davies said Navitas has never had to pay an inducement fee before.
She said in Lee County, the location of Navitas’ Mendota Hills wind farm, no inducement fee was ever offered and that damage to rural roads was repaired by the company.
If approved by the county, the Benson wind farm project will attract 7,500 truckloads of equipment, but mostly concrete and gravel for the project, she said.
Between 300 and 400 truckloads will be overweight, Davies added.
“We’ll continue to work with them,” Davies said. “Hopefully, we’ll find a ground acceptable to both of us.”
This isn’t the first time Navitas has had problems with getting the wind farm development OK’d by local officials.
Last month, the county’s fire departments asked for extra money from the company in order to equip and train their volunteers to handle any possible emergencies on top of the 400-foot structures.
Davies said difficulties with the firefighters have since been resolved. She would not discuss details of the agreement.
John Sharp can be reached at 686-3234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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