KEYSER – The proposed escrow agreement is back from being scrutinized by the attorneys, and representatives of U.S. Wind Force will therefore be asking the Mineral County Commissioners today to approve both the final decommissioning report by G.L. Garrad Hassan and the escrow agreement to be signed between the Pinnacle Wind Farm and the county.
The decommissioning report, required by the West Virginia Public Service Commission as part of the permitting process for the Pinnacle Wind Farm – a 23-turbine wind farm to be constructed on Green Mountain – was to study the cost of dismantling the wind farm once it has surpassed its useful life. The amount needed to cover that cost – and how that money would be set aside – was to be outlined in the escrow agreement.
The decommissioning study, however, actually advises that the scrap value of the wind farm would exceed the cost to dismantle it – by approximately $35,545 – making the need for an escrow account technically unnecessary.
Because representatives of U.S. Wind Force had previously agreed – at the county commissioners’ request – to putting up a “floor” amount as security, however, the
amount to be agreed-upon today will initially be $57,500, or $2,500 for each of the turbines.
That amount will increase in time, as further decommissioning studies are conducted every five years, according to Dave Friend, chairman and CEO for U.S. Wind Force.
If not satisfied with the outcome of those reports, the Mineral County Commission has the right to have a second, independent study conducted at the county’s expense.
Once the amount of the security is determined, it may be set up in the form of of a performance bond, letter of credit, cash or “another security instrument reasonably satisfactory to the commission,” using one of the local banks as the escrow agent.
The fund is to be established “on or before the commencement of the pouring of the first turbine foundation.”
The agreement would also seem to answer at least two of the main questions posed repeatedly by opponents to the wind farm: How much will be removed if the wind farm is decommissioned, and who will have the responsibility to remove it?
The agreement defines decommissioning as “dismantling and removal (for offsite reuse, recycling or disposal) of all Wind Power facilities, including the removal of wind turbine foundations to a depth of approximately three feet below surface grade and the regrading and reseeding of disturbed areas in accordance with standard practices in the wind industry.”
As for the responsible parties, the agreement states that Pinnacle is obligated, under the lease agreements signed with the property owners, to dismantle the turbines. If they fail to meet that obligation, the responsibility will fall to the land owners.
The Mineral County Commission is the last in line, should “all other persons or entities possessing the right or obligation to decommission such facilities fail or refuse to .. fulfill such obligation.”
Both the decommissioning report and the escrow agreement are on the agenda for today’s meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
As of the close of the business day Monday, no one had signed up to speak on the topic.
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