ANDERSON, Ind. – A proposed wind farm that could power 40,000 to 60,000 homes got a tentative boost from the Madison County Council on Tuesday, when it set a hearing next month to consider tax abatement necessary for the project to move forward.
Representatives of E.ON Climate & Renewables North America won a 5-1 vote for a resolution that tentatively declares an economic revitalization area for thousands of acres in Duck Creek, Pipe Creek and Boone townships north of Elwood, where the Wildcat Wind Farm I, LLC, is proposed for construction. Councilman Rick Gardner cast the lone dissenting vote.
E.ON development manager Andy Melka said the proposed wind farm would be built on about 8,500 acres of land in Madison, Grant, Howard and Tipton counties, with about half the construction in Madison County. Officials said the facility would produce about 250 megawatts of electricity and represent investment of $175 million to $200 million in the county.
Based on projections, the tax due the county from the project would be $11 million over 10 years. With tax abatement the company says is necessary to build, the tax due would be $5.1 million. Melka said construction would create 100-150 jobs and there would be about six jobs when the wind farm is finished, possibly by late 2012.
Council members expressed concern that taking land out of agricultural production could reduce tax generated by farming, but company officials said land leases paid to property owners would have a stabilizing effect on the county.
Separately Tuesday, the council rejected requests for funding made by Board of County Commissioners President John Richwine to appropriate $80,000, and then a lesser amount, to pay the costs of arbitration for employees fired from the assessor’s office and county highway department.
Richwine said the money was needed to defend personnel decisions when money-saving layoffs were needed. Councilman Mike Phipps suggested the commissioners could come up with money from their own budget. But Richwine said, “I don’t know what that alternative plan would be,” because of budget cuts that already have been made.
Council president Larry Crenshaw warned more arbitration cases from laid-off workers are likely in the future. “It’s inevitable we’re going to have to lay people off,” he said.
A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, to consider tax abatement for the proposed Wildcat Wind Farm I north of Elwood.
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