Summit Ridge Energy LLC applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) in the town of Wilton last week. The Monroe County Planning and Zoning Department met Tuesday to discuss the permit and analysis of other CUP applications for Ridgeville and Wells. The department made plans to visit the wind farm in Montfort April 23 and began review of over 120 pages of double-sided testimony from public hearings for Ridgeville and Wells.
“We’d like to visit the actual tower sites to get a better understanding of how large ours might be,” said Administrator Alison Phillips. “We talked about road conditions, and are looking into having a third party do some inspection.”
The department also reviewed bonding for turbine removal and wording of the zoning ordinance. Questions about wording in the zoning ordinance and in the proposal from Summit Ridge Energy LLC included: What is an “accessory structure,” and how is placement of wires and transmission lines identified verbally and topographically? The department plans to conduct intense analysis, and set tentative plans to meet again for discussion later this month.
Bonding for removal of wind turbines is a financial guarantee that Summit Ridge Energy LLC has the funds to remove the structures they build. Even if the company files bankruptcy, this bonding ensures that money is available for removal of turbines and other facilities. This can be done in forms of insurance coverage, sworn statements and in some cases a deposit. Mark Jacobson, Invenergy Senior Account Manager, said that though bonding is required, the company plans to replace the turbines with newer ones when they become outdated.
“Once the turbines go up, there is an advantage to replacing them for us and the community,” said Jacobson. “The cost of wind never changes, so energy prices will be stable under the utilities that receive power.”
Jacobson said the energy created by the turbines will go to Wisconsin utility companies, and that Summit Ridge Energy LLC plans to use local contractors for about 75% of its construction and maintenance. The local economy will also benefit from Wisconsin’s goal of having 10% renewable energy by 2015. Each turbine also has the effect of 1,000 trees absorbing carbon dioxide, which was recently deemed a hazardous waste by the U.S. Supreme Court. Wind power has one of the largest roles in green energy as the nation moves closer to environmentally friendly power sources.
By Keith Zukas
19 April 2007
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