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County looks at Big Sky  

PRINCETON – The Bureau County Board will meet in special session March 25 to take action on the decommissioning plan for Big Sky Wind project in northern Bureau County.

At Tuesday’s county board meeting, Zoning Committee Chairman William Bennett presented the decommissioning plan from the Big Sky Wind farm developers, based on the developers’ similar decommissioning plan for the Providence Heights wind farm project, formerly known as Crescent Ridge Wind II LLC Midwest.

The Bureau County Board had approved 57 conditional use permits for Big Sky Wind LLC in July 2006. The Big Sky Wind project will stretch north of Ohio into Lee County, and between Bureau and Lee counties, will have about 100 turbines.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Bureau County Engineer John Gross said he needed more time to look into the decommissioning plan, especially since he was not in the county engineer position with the earlier wind farm projects.

“There are estimates here for the decommissioning, but I need to have more information to see how they arrived at the actual numbers,” Gross said.

Big Sky Wind representative Tim Polz said the cost to decommission, or to bring down, each Big Sky Wind turbine is about $19,860 per turbine, which includes, in part, the removal of the turbine, blades, the tower, and foundation, as well as removing any associated meteorological towers, underground cable and access roads.

The Big Sky decommissioning plan is consistent with the Providence Heights plan, Polz said. The cost variance, of about $1,000 more for each Providence Heights turbine, is because the substation for Big Sky is located in Lee County, not in Bureau County as with Providence Heights, he said.

Any additional information needed by Gross will be provided, Polz said.

Board member Steve Sondgeroth said he didn’t think the estimated $19,860 per Big Sky Wind turbine seemed an adequate amount.

“We need to take our time and make sure we’ve crossed all our Ts before we make a decision,” Sondgeroth said.

Polz said a delay in the approval of the decommissioning plan would mean a hardship to the developers.

“We’re gearing up for construction in April,” Polz said. “If the board doesn’t approve this document, subject to Mr. Gross’ sign-off on it, then we’re waiting for another county board meeting before we can deem our building permit application complete, and it could substantially delay construction of the project.”

Sondgeroth said the roads are still posted with their spring weight limits and delaying the decision a month was not unreasonable.

After further discussion, the board agreed to meet at 6:30 p.m. March 25 to take action on the Big Sky Wind decommissioning plan.

Also at Tuesday’s county board meeting, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann said an agreement on the letter of credit for the Big Sky project is about complete with the developers. The letter of credit is nearly identical to that agreed upon for Providence Heights, he said.

The board gave Herrmann authority to approve the Big Sky letter of credit, based on the Providence Heights letter of credit.

By Donna Barker

Bureau County Republican

15 March 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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