County ironing out details with wind energy company
Logan County engineer Bret Aukamp attended the county board’s road and bridge committee meeting Monday to discuss revisions of the county’s road and maintenance agreement with Horizon Wind Energy, which intends to build a wind farm straddling Logan and Tazewell counties.
The project is expected to take a heavy toll on rural roads where construction equipment will travel.
The plan has yet to be finalized, since some issues are still being debated between Aukamp and Horizon. Bill Whitlock from Horizon Wind Energy was expected to attend Monday’s session, but he did not show up.
One item that has been agreed upon so far is allowing the county to take care of the seal work for the roads after their reconstruction. That’s a positive move, according to Aukamp.
“We want our county highway department to do the seal coat,” he said. “We do a good job, and we have that ability.
“We can send them the bill, and we’ll have control over how it goes down. I thought it was a great idea.”
Horizon will hire a contractor to build the new road bases and add rock to the existing roads to repair or replace culverts.
Four miles of county highway will be affected. Two miles of County Highway 17, 1100th Avenue, will be worked on from Bethel Church to the Tazewell County line. The other two miles will run from County Highway 20, 2600 Street from Bethel Church to approximately 900 Avenue.
Aukamp said he is still working out the details of how much to ask Horizon to place in an escrow account for the project.
“Until we know what the total construction costs are, we won’t know how much to put in there,” he said. “We want to make sure that we have enough money to finish.
“It’s a safe ground to make sure everything is completed.”
Aukamp will also be acting as a liaison to two local townships, Eminence and Orville, to help these communities develop a road maintenance agreement.
Committee chairman George Mitchell addressed a section within the agreement dealing with the amount of liability insurance the county would have to carry.
Other counties, like nearby McLean County, carry $10 million to maintain commercial and general liability – which appears to be the standard for counties in dealing with these type of projects.
“Is $10 million enough?” aksed Mitchell. “If you don’t have a claim, $1,000 is enough. But if you have a claim … ”
Committee member Chuck Ruben shared the same sentiment.
“They’re going to have big equipment moving slowly,” Ruben said. “Ten million sounds like a lot, until you really need it.”
From Ruben’s understanding of the agreement, if Horizon is working on a road and it causes a wreck, the county is not liable.
“Are we setting ourselves up for finger pointing?” asked committee member Mike McIntosh.
These are details Aukamp will be addressing in some of his future meetings with Horizon Wind Energy.
One plus for the taxpayers, according to Aukamp, is that Horizon will be floating the bill for the entire road reconstruction project – and in the end, the roads will be in better shape than they are today.
“Horizon will be putting in the money,” Aukamp said. “It will not be passed on to the Logan County taxpayer, and we will not see any added costs.”
Aukamp will meet with the committee again after finalizing the details with Horizon Wind Energy.
By Joshua Niziolkiewicz
8 April 2008
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