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Calmer skies: County could halt wind tower requests for six months  

Credit:  By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter, Times-Republic Online, newsbug.info 8 November 2010 ~~

Wind tower requests could be put to a halt for six months.

At Friday’s Iroquois County Board Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, the committee members unanimously approved the motion for a six-month moratorium on future wind tower development for the purpose of researching new information and amending the county’s wind tower ordinance due to the increased interest in wind tower development.

Judy Campbell, a Livingston County board member, was at Friday’s meeting. She said she was not speaking on behalf of her county but instead as someone who has researched wind tower projects for five years.

She said she research into wind power needs to be examined with great detail and the county board needs to listen to what its county’s residents want.

“Sometimes a prophet in her own town isn’t heard like a man with a briefcase,” Campbell said. She said the county needs to look at value versus wealth. “I consider a rural atmosphere to be part of wealth.”

She compared the sizes of the two counties. Livingston County has 38 people per square mile, with a few more population centers, and Iroquois County has 28.

“If there is no obstacle in the ordinance in Livingston County,” she said, “we’ll end up with a 1,000 wind towers.”

That means with the scale of the projects “45 percent of my county will be frozen in time,” she said. She said she worries about the future development, the health of the Vermilion River and neighboring farmers “who will never be able to spray crops with an aerial applicator again.”

Stockland Township resident Mary Langellier was also at Friday’s meeting. She said she’s concerned with the county’s decommissioning plan for the wind farms. If for some reason the company did not respond to the county’s written notice to remove an abandoned tower or the company were to be “no longer reachable” it would be up to the county to remove the wind turbine, according to the county’s ordinance.

Also, according to the ordinance “Any foundation associated with a wind generator or anemometer tower shall be removed from the site to depth which is at least 48 inches below restored ground level.” She said cables could very well be below four feet.

Plus, there is a $10,000 surety bond per tower for its removal. She said the amount would not be enough to cover the costs if the county would need to remove it.

Campbell said most counties have between $25,000-40,000 in surety bonds covering each tower.

And, she said, Livingston County has in part of its public record a copy of a lease offered from a wind tower company. She said in a lease offered in Livingston County it reads the “termination date is entirely up to the wind farm” and “decommissioning defers to the county”.

“We need to fix the ordinance before they all get grandfathered in,” said Donna Crow.

More and more companies are calling the Iroquois County zoning office every day, said zoning administrator Gloria Schleef.

Currently there are two wind farms approved for Iroquois County: K4 Wind Farm in Milks Grove and Settlers Trail Wind Farm in Sheldon and Stockland townships. There is one more, another E.On wind farm in Loda and Pigeon Grove townships, which will be discussed at tomorrow’s regional planning commission meeting.

Schleef said the proposed wind farm in Loda and Pigeon Grove township could have towers within a mile and a half of Loda. In that case, she said, the village has jurisdiction and if they don’t want it, “They have to speak up.”

In addition to the moratorium, the committee also approved raising the decommissioning bond to $50,000 per turbine. “The bond is protection for the county. The land is the farmer’s responsibility,” said Jim Meyer.

There are other issues at stake. Crow said she would like to see a cap on the number of towers in Iroquois County. “I’m pro wind but I don’t want to see a tower on every acre in Iroquois County.”

Adam Zumwalt said he thinks wind farm companies need to approach the board with an exact number of towers they will be building and they need to have the road agreements already in place.

“That way we know where every tower will be set,” he said.

“What is our role as county board members?” asked Dan Pursley. “Are we regulators, collectors, protectors?”

“Yes, we have to protect our landowners but they have to protect themselves, too,” said Troy Krumwiede.

“It’ll be a learning process,” said Crow. She said as more towers are approved and built, not just in Iroquois County but in all over, more information will be gathered from the experiences.

Source:  By WENDY DAVIS, Reporter, Times-Republic Online, newsbug.info 8 November 2010

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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