KEYSER – Keyser resident and retired history teacher Jennie Shaffer compared the proposed escrow agreement between the Mineral County Commissioners and U.S. Wind Force to the Bill of Rights Tuesday evening, noting that the agreement, like the Bill of Rights, is in place to protect the citizens.
She therefore urged the
commissioners to adopt the escrow agreement – which puts into place a sum of money sufficient to cover the cost of decommissioning, or dismantling, the wind farm once it has exceeded its usefulness.
Noting that the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution as “the ultimate protection against tyranny and lack of concern for individuals,” Shaffer said the escrow agreement would assure that the wind farm “is paid for from the first shovel of dirt to start construction of the wind farm to the decommissioning of the last standing turbine.
“This is the document that will protect individual land owners, and guarantee that turbines on leased or purchased land are the responsibility of the group in possessoin of the turbines when their useful life is over.
“Those in opposition to the wind farm, like the anti-federalists to the Constitution, can rest,” she said. “They are assured that their rights to have the turbines decommissioned are guaranteed.”
Dave Friend and Jim Cookman of U.S. Wind Force were also present at Tuesday evening’s commission meeting, and presented Commissioners Cindy Pyles and Janice LaRue with a draft copy of the escrow agreement.
The document, of course, was missing the specific amounts of money to be placed in the escrow account. That information will not be available until Garrad Hassan, a wind energy consultant company, conducts its study and provides a report on what would be needed for the decommissioning process.
The commissioners approved the hiring of that company at their Nov. 9 meeting, with Commission President Wayne Spiggle voting in opposition.
Spiggle was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, however, and will be presented with the draft copy as soon as he returns.
In discussing the document, Friend noted that the conversion of the project over to Edison Mission, the company which will actually be operating the wind farm, is expected to occur within the next few months and it will therefore be Edison that will be choosing the bank where the escrow account is to be placed.
They did say, however, that most of the local banks would not be eligible for the account because the Public Service Commission, in requiring both the decommissioning study and the escrow account, stipulated that the bank had to have assets of at least $9 billion in order to qualify.
They are, however, looking at a local attorney to serve as the escrow agent.
“We like to use local where we can,” Friend said.
Frank O’Hara, co-chairman of the Allegheny Front Alliance, which has strongly opposed the Pinnacle Wind Farm from the beginning, was also present for the meeting but chose not to speak.
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