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Noble project work should start again this month 

Officials announced this week the Noble Thumb Windpark should resume construction this spring, and the project’s completion date is anticipated to be in late December of this year.

Russ Lundberg, Huron County Building and Zoning director, said Julie Harker-Leigh, Noble Environmental Power Community Outreach director, told Huron County Planning Commissioners Wednesday Noble has contracted with Alliant Energy EPC, LLC to design and construct the company’s wind park. It will be located in Bingham and Sheridan townships.

“They expect to start anew as soon as the frost is out of the ground,” said Lundberg. “The revised construction schedule identifies April 2008 as the re-startup date and the completion date as the end of December 2008.”

Alliant Energy is the same company that was contracted to construct the John-Deere owned Harvest Wind Farm in the Elkton-Pigeon area last year.

During their regular meeting Wednesday, planning commissioners approved updated site plan review documents that previously were submitted by Noble, Lundberg said.

He said this is about the fourth time the company has submitted final site plan documents to the county’s planning commission.

“It isn’t necessarily an amended plan, it basically updates their schedule and pulls previous site plan review documents together into one plan,” Lundberg said. “The previous documents were first a 32-turbine project and then they added nine turbines to Bingham Township and seven turbines to Sheridan Township. Then they scaled back Sheridan Township to five turbines, so it’s a total of 46 turbines.”

Lundberg said Noble’s consolidated plan includes everything on one map and shows the collection system for the wind park to be underground. Previous plans included some of the collection system to be overhead, and now that everything’s underground, it will make for a much cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing project, he said.

The planning commission’s approval of the final site plan documents is contingent upon the company updating its decommissioning plan, Lundberg said.

“The only condition that the planning commission placed on Noble last night was that they need to address or update their decommissioning plan and bring that up to compliance with any planning commission standards that were adopted back in 2005,” he said, noting the required update of the company’s decommissioning plan shouldn’t hinder the project.

Lundberg said those living in the area are going to see quite a flurry of activity in the upcoming months as this project gets off the ground.

“They expect some of the turbine parts to be coming in May and they will have an overlapping construction schedule initially focusing on those sites where access roads were previously developed, working on foundations and underground cables and also constructing the additional 30 access roads,” he said. “So there’s going to be a lot of movement.”

Alliant Energy will do all of the work and schedule all of the contractors. There will be construction trailers that are similar to those brought in during the Harvest Wind Farm also on site, Lundberg said.

“It looks like they’re having a 5-acre … laydown/coordination site where the construction trailers and temporary offices will be located,” he said. “And that will be located on a 5-acre parcel near Atwater and Stambaugh Road.”

It’s been rumored Noble Environmental Power sold its Thumb Windpark project after SparkSpread, a publication of Electron Financial Publishing Limited, reported in early March that the company agreed to sell the project to Babcock & Brown. However, a spokeswoman from Noble Environmental Power could neither confirm nor deny the report when asked about it by the Huron Daily Tribune.

Lundberg said there was no discussion or mention of any name changes during Wednesday’s planning commission meeting. He said all permits and project construction activity remain in Noble’s name.

In other business conducted Wednesday, planning commissioners conducted and approved a site plan review requested by Farver Road Baptist Church for the construction of an addition to an existing space, Lundberg said.

The Huron County Planning Commission also held two public hearings Wednesday.

The first was requested by Sid Berridge to rezone a 1-acre parcel in Section 6 of Lincoln Township, located near the S & L Party Store, Lundberg said.

He said Berridge wanted to eventually do some kind of development at that location, which currently is zoned agricultural and needs to be rezoned to a general business district if it’s going to be used for commercial purposes.

However, a North Van Dyke Corridor Study the planning commission approved and used to amend the county’s master plan in 2007, identifies the land Berridge owns as being south of the area recommended for commercial purposes, Lundberg said. As a result, he said Berridge’s request was denied.

“And the basis for the recommended denial is the 2007 master plan amendment for the North Van Dyke Corridor,” Lundberg said.

The second public hearing was requested by Jeffrey and Stephanie Krohn for zoning approval to establish a temporary sand mining operation, located at Hartsell Road, a half-mile north of Sebewaing Road in Grant Township, that would result in three ponds and a future residential building site.

Lundberg said the couple wants to be able to remove sand over a period of time, earn money from the sand and then at some point, have the finished product of three ponds and future residential building site.

Following that public hearing, planning commissioners approved their request.

The planning commission’s next regular meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. May 7.

Kate Hessling

The Huron Daily Tribune

3 April 2008

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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