They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes, but the Natrona County Commissioners also wanted to know if something could be done about lights, namely those atop the Chevron Wind Towers just east of Evansville.
The subject came up at a small ceremony last week, as Chevron Wind Farm manager Greg Buchholz presented a $377,000 check for this year’s property taxes on the project.
“We paid the taxes and we paid them all up front,” Bechholz said, noting they had the option of paying in installments, but were cognizant of tight budget times for the county. “We wanted them to have it [the full amount] for whatever programs they needed.”
The payment is also in contrast to Duke Energy’s wind project in neighboring Converse County, where Duke is challenging its taxes, saying it only owes half of what was assessed.
Chevron’s 11-tower wind farm has a taxable value of $5.5 million, according to chevron spokeswoman Jennifer Silva, who said market value is considerably higher. The wind farm has been in operation for just over a year.
In general discussion, some of the commissioners asked if anything could be done to reduce the visual impact of the tower lights.
“Those lights are pretty obnoxious, they’re really bright red,” said Commissioner Rob Hendry, noting they particularly affect nearby homes.
Buchholz said the lights were installed according to Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations, but that company experts were researching new devices that turn the lights on only when an aircraft is in the vicinity.
Hendry also asked about the possibility of putting in deflectors so the lights could be seen from above, but not directly below the tower.
“If we could only figure out something to make them a little less visible, it would go a long ways,” Hendry said, “and maybe make it easier to live with them.”
Meanwhile, in other action at the work session, the commissioners were told construction of the new $395,000 Road and Bridge Maintenance Facility on Casper Mountain was over two months behind schedule.
Road and Bridge Director Mike Haigler said snow removal equipment continues to be left outside, and when temperatures drop below zero (the coldest night has been 17 below), they’ve had trouble getting the engines started, if they even can.
“We’re backed into a corner,” Haigler said.
Last Friday the contractor, McMurry Construction, began pouring the concrete floor of the building, but snow packed roads made cement delivery hazardous, and cold weather was expected to continue to hamper efforts.
The contract called for the building to be finished in mid-October, and daily fines have been accruing since them. The new facility is replacing the old building, which was originally a fire hall in the 1960s, and was never large enough to house the larger road equipment.
In another matter, the commissioners met with Paul Roberts, who discussed his plans to start a trash removal business on Casper Mountain. Roberts was told he would need to get a zoning variance to operate the business from his Casper Mountain property. They also suggested he do a survey of mountain residents to see if his idea was economically viable.
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