KEYSER – Although the Mineral County Commissioners had little to say as they unanimously approved the decommissioning study and escrow agreement with U.S. Wind Force on Tuesday evening, a member of the audience hailed the evening as “an historic meeting.”
“This is democracy at work,” Jennie Shaffer told the commissioners. “I think both sides need to be commended.”
The “sides” Shaffer referred to were the county commissioners and representatives of U.S. Wind Force who have spent many months scrutinizing even the smallest detail of the proposal Pinnacle Wind Farm on Green Mountain and, in the end, putting the proposed documents in the hands of their attorneys for a final give-and-take fine-tuning.
The documents – a single-page resolution approving the decommissioning study conducted by G.L. Garrad Hassan and the multi-page escrow agreement laying out the details for dismantling the wind farm – were read once again by the commissioners on Tuesday before they agreed to sign.
Commissioner Richard Lechliter made the motion to accept the decommissioning study, and Commissioner Janice LaRue seconded it, while LaRue made the motion to enter into the agreement, and Lechliter provided the second.
“You all need to be commended by the taxpayers for working this out for the benefit of the taxpayers,” Shaffer said.
Despite the many weeks of lobbying by both opponents and proponents of the wind farm, Shaffer was the only one who spoke about the issue during Tuesday’s meeting. A second supporter, Cliff Wendricks, had signed up to speak but his appointment came after the vote was taken.
Frank O’Hara, who has been very vocal against the wind project from the beginning, was also in the audience for the meeting but did not speak.
Although the decommissioning study states that the cost to be recovered from the
sale of scrap from the wind farm would exceed the cost of dismantling it and there is therefore no need for an escrow account, the agreement calls for a “floor” amount of $57,500 – $2,500 for each of the 23 wind turbines – to be placed in escrow if it would ever be needed.
The agreement also places the responsibility for dismantling the farm – if that ever becomes necessary – with Pinnacle first, followed by the land owner and the financial institutions. Responsibility only falls to the county commission if the other three entities fail to get the job done.
With the documents now signed, site work for the wind farm is on track for a spring start.
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