White County Commissioners are taking the next action in helping the county become a home for an energy wind farm as they prepare for a public meeting to review a wind ordinance.
John Heimlich, president of the White County Commissioners, announced at a regular commissioners meeting on Tuesday that the draft of the ordinance is in its final stages.
“An ordinance was created for the purpose of having a wind farm in White County,” Heimlich said. “Without the ordinance Horizon Energy can’t continue. We are bringing it to the public to get their feedback.”
The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Tri-County High School. Because the meeting is nearing, two spokesmen from Horizon Wind Energy gave a PowerPoint presentation for the commissioners and the White County Council members during a regular joint meeting.
Martin N. Culik and Ryan Brown, both Horizon Wind Energy project managers, informed the audience of the history and the future of Horizon Energy, along with the future of the current White County wind project.
Culik started the presentation by giving a history of Horizon Wind Energy, which is owned by Energias de Portugal (EDP). It develops, constructs, owns and operates wind farms throughout the U.S. and is ranked fourth in the world for wind energy production. The company is headquartered in Houston, Texas, employees over 200 people and has developed more than 1,400 megawatts of operating wind farms.
“Horizon Wind Energy owns more than 1,300 megawatts of wind energy projects and has more than 9,000 megawatts under development,” Culik said. “We have a unique knowledge of developing and constructing wind farms across the Midwest.”
In the U.S., Horizon has active projects and projects they have developed in Illinois, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York and Minnesota.
Developing and evaluating a potential wind energy site is not taken lightly by Horizon Energy and can take a long period of time to develop due to the criteria the energy business follows. They will evaluate the resource of the wind, along with talking to the landowners seeing if there is an interest.
A study of the transmission of the energy will be evaluated to see what the capacity is and what the cost of the upgrades will be. If there is a general market and specific buyers for the sales of the power the potential for the site is higher. The company also reviews the permit issues of the area and then all the financing it would take to complete the project.
“We are a company that works with the farmer and after the turbines have been assembled we put the land back into farming,” Culik said. “We emphasis working with the landowners and the county.”
Many residents may be concerned about the danger of the turbines and the noise it makes, but Culik said there are numerous studies the company will conduct before installing any equipment. Studies include meteorological, avian and wildlife, communication, aviation, demographics, economic impact, archeological, environmental, cultural resources, noise analysis, visual simulations and transportation.
“The blades are kept at a constant speed at all times, so the level of the noise does not change,” Culik said. “We have found that after moving 600 to 700 feet away from the turbines you can no longer hear it. Most people are quiet surprised at the lack of noise they make.”
As the project continues there has been criteria met and studies completed. Horizon Energy met with landowners in November and meteorological towers were installed in April of 2007. Applications have been filed and the land is being optioned. An aviation study, a bird and wildlife study and a communication study have been completed.
Culik said the transmission line study is underway, along with power sales negotiations. He also said additional land is being obtained and more meteorological towers are being installed.
“We applied for a permit for 600 megawatts and also an additional 400 megawatts. We would like to see this project be 10,000 megawatts,” Culik said. “Towers are about 1,000 feet side by side and we are looking at a linear pattern for this area.”
Some of the next steps for Horizon Energy will include completing the studies and consulting with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Aviation Administration. It must also apply for a special county use permit and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“We are feeling very confident that this project will be built and we could start the construction in the summer of 2009,” Culik said.
Copies of the proposed wind ordinance can be obtained prior to the meeting by call 574-583-6557 or by visiting the White County Economic Development office located in the White County Courthouse basement in Monticello.
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