A proposed windmill farm in Spanish Fork cleared a major hurdle Tuesday morning when the Utah County Commission granted the city an easement for the project.
The commission voted to grant a 50-foot-wide easement to Spanish Fork city for power lines that will carry electricity from the wind farm to a Rocky Mountain Power substation in Mapleton. The city will pay the county $8,500 for the easement.
“That was a very important hurdle. Without that, we couldn’t tie into Rocky Mountain Power’s point,” said Christine Mikell, a spokeswoman for Wasatch Wind, the company trying to build the wind farm.
The project would put nine windmills in Spanish Fork Canyon.
The easement from the county was a step in the right direction for Wasatch Wind, but there is still work to be done before the wind farm becomes a reality. Mikell said there are several other details to work out first, including an agreement with a nearby landowner that would guarantee long-term access to the wind farm.
Mikell said she expects a final decision on the access issue to be made in July.
“Any time you’ve got real estate issues you just don’t know what will happen,” she said. “So we’re optimistic, but until those are resolved, those access issues, things are still hanging in the balance.
“The investors want to see the access easement finalized before they move forward.”
Another thing the investors want to see is a property tax rebate from the Nebo School District and several other entities. Wasatch Wind is asking for a 70 percent rebate on its property taxes for the wind farm’s first 10 years of existence.
The district gets about 77 percent of those taxes, with Spanish Fork city, Utah County and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District divvying up the rest.
Spanish Fork Mayor Joe Thomas said the four entities will still make a profit off the property taxes during that 10-year period if they approve the rebate because the wind farm will substantially increase the property’s value.
“We’re going to rebate something we never would have gotten in our lives and we get to keep a big chunk of it, so it was a no-brainer,” he said. “It was a good deal for the school.”
Mikell said there is one other issue that needs to be resolved before the project could go forward. She declined to specify what that issue is, but said it is related to the project’s finances.
There is a chance that these issues could go unresolved and that the project could be scrapped, but Mikell expressed confidence that the project would not be derailed.
“I feel 95 percent confident that we’ll get these issues resolved,” she said.
Thomas said it was a matter of “crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.”
“Everything’s moving forward,” he said. “I’m optimistic.”
If final decisions are made on the remaining issues by July, Mikell said Wasatch Wind could begin construction on the wind farm in September. Construction would take about three months.
By Jeremy Duda
16 May 2007
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