For months, the stickiest part of negotiations between Van Wert County and Iberdrola Renewables has been a road agreement. As Iberdrola made plans for the Blue Creek Wind Farm in the northern portions of Tully, Union, and Hoaglin townships, County Engineer Kyle Wendel and township trustees have tried to come to terms on exactly how the roads near the wind farm will be beefed up and repaired.
That agreement has finally been reached and the Van Wert County Commissioners signed off on the deal Tuesday by a 3-0 vote.
“It’s a great example of what happens when you work together with an open mind,” summarized Iberdrola Project Manager Dan Litchfield after the vote. “I think everyone got everything that they needed. We are now able to keep on going, and everyone has a little more comfort that the roads will get repaired as they need to.
“It was a group effort between the trustees in each represented township. The Paulding County engineer also was instrumental in this whole thing. He and I talked with Iberdrola and their representatives on different issues, and we finally got a document we all felt pretty happy about. It’s a compromise. Nobody’s really happy on either side, but as I was told once, that makes for a good compromise. It’s a workable document that everybody can live with.”
The wind farm has had its share of detractors as well as opposition on many fronts from trustees in Hoaglin Township. None of the three trustees from either Hoaglin or Tully townships were present at the signing, but Union Township Trustees William Dowler and Kent Ralston were on hand to affix their signatures as well.
“At least a month ago, as Union Township representatives, we put it in Kyle’s [Wendel] hands and thought that he could represent us and work through it for our benefit,” stated Dowler. “And I’d like to thank him publicly for all the work he’s done on our behalf. We’re pleased with what they’ve done. And I might add that the person looking out for our interests on-site is excellent, Bruce Merry.”
Construction began on Blue Creek Wind Farm last month. Already more than 100,000 feet of access roads have been completed and around a half-dozen bases for the gigantic turbines have been poured. Litchfield said that the hope is to have more than half of the turbines online in 2011.
The agreement itself includes a cash escrow account of up to $2 million and approximately $2.5 million in road upgrades to prevent damage. Iberdrola is also paying for Merry, who already has be on the job one month.
“I think the townships and the county have the protections they wanted,” Litchfield declared.
Although only trustees from Union Township signed the agreement Tuesday afternoon, the commissioners had no problem approving the document. Commissioner Clair Dudgeon explained, “I stated my concern way back about the importance of having a road agreement between the county engineer, as the statute says, and the owner of the utility. They have both indicated to me that they agree to what is in that agreement.”
“I want to thank Kyle [Wendel] and Dan [Litchfield] for their willingness to hammer this out,” Commissioner Harold Merkle concurred. “We look to Kyle for guidance on this.”
“As for the other townships in both Van Wert and Paulding counties, Wendel shared, “Union Township has signed. I think the townships in Paulding County have either signed or are going to sign. We’re still waiting to hear from Tully and Hoaglin.”
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