PRINCETON – AgriWind is now going to have to wait another month for its money, as the Bureau County Board tabled any action on a revised letter of credit and decommissioning plan at its meeting Tuesday.
Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann brought before the board an agreement to change AgriWind’s arrangement for the eventual decommission of its wind turbines from a cash escrow agreement to a letter of credit. As part of his explanation, Herrmann said the amount for decommissioning was set at $19,879 for each of the four turbines, a rate agreed upon when the turbines went up.
Board member Joe Bassetti said that since the topic was being reopened, he thought the amount should be changed to $30,000 per turbine.
Zoning Officer Kris Donarski said, currently, decommissioning rates for the county’s wind turbines are $20,821 for Providence Heights’ turbines, and $23,900 for the existing Crescent Ridge, and proposed at $19,879 for Eurus/Crescent Ridge II, and $30,891 for Big Sky.
Board member Steve Sondgeroth said he was not as comfortable with a letter of credit as with a cash escrow, and the county should raise the rate to offset the county’s risk.
AgriWind developers Matt and Joy Kauffman were in attendance. Joy Kauffman asked to speak and was given two minutes.
“A portion of what we’re discussing wasn’t actually back on the table because that approval has already been in place for well over two years,” Kauffman said. “At that time, we were also approved for a letter of credit rather than a cash escrow, and so this whole waiting process has been more of finalizing the exact language.”
Kauffman said there were certain things that have been already approved by this board that shouldn’t be reopened just because the language was being finalized.
Board member Bill Bennett said the board had agreed to a letter of credit, and AgriWind offered the cash escrow to expedite the project.
Kauffman agreed and said at that time, the turbines were sitting in Houston.
“Rather than have to delay our project, we put the cash escrow in place and said we would be patient and work with the county until the exact language was approved by this board,” she said. “We’ve had $80,000 of capital tied up in an account for over a year, and it’s obviously hindering our ability to run a business in this county.”
Bennett then read from minutes provided by Kauffman of the July 2006 and August 2006 county board meetings.
Board member Rick Wilkin said that according to those minutes, the board already approved decommissioning at the $19,000 level, and Herrmann agreed.
“So the only thing that they’re asking for tonight is that we put in place a letter of credit, that we already agreed to do, and that they get back their cash,” Wilkin said.
“Essentially that’s it,” Herrmann said.
Herrmann then said he couldn’t give the board a legal opinion on the overall security of letters of credit, and Sondgeroth moved the board table the issue until a legal opinion could be given.
The motion was approved.
Herrmann then gave the board the name of a lawyer to give that legal opinion. The cost will be $1,500 to $2,000 for his legal opinion on letters of credit, and $1,200 to come before the board. The board directed Herrmann to see if the lawyer could attend the July meeting.
By Barb Kromphardt
12 June 2008
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