NextEra Energy exploring options to build wind turbines in Marshall, Fulton counties
Credit: By VIRGINIA RANSBOTTOM, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer, www.southbendtribune.com 16 May 2011 ~~
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PLYMOUTH – NextEra Energy Resources is in the early stages of developing a 40- to 70-turbine wind farm in southern Marshall County and a portion of Fulton County.
Paul Dockery, of the Fortune 200 company based out of Juno Beach, Fla., gave a report to Marshall County commissioners Monday that highlighted what the project could do for the economy.
So far, wind resources and compatible land use look good for NextEra to invest $180 million in the project, two-thirds of which would be in Union and Green townships in Marshall County, Dockery said.
Estimates showed the project could bring over $20 million in property taxes and $14 million in salaries and benefits for permanent maintenance in the next 30 years.
Dockery said eight full-time technicians/operation managers would be hired from the area and, at the peak of construction, 150 jobs would be created.
NextEra has already installed meteorological towers and been in contact with many farmer owners in the community. Purdue University Extension Office also has hosted a few public meetings.
Open houses are scheduled for June 8 in the Argos Junior-Senior High School gym and June 9 at the Fulton County Museum, both from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Information on health effects, property values, animal endangerment and other site responsibilities will be available.
After the NextEra presentation, the board held two public hearings to amend zoning ordinances for both wind energy conversion systems and telecommunication facility standards.
The amendments included the airspace control height and use restrictions for all proposed cell and wind towers surrounding approved airstrips.
By the time the approach, transitional, horizontal and conical surfaces for 15 private airstrips and one public airport were mapped out, limited space was left. However, two spoke in favor of the airspace standards.
“Two-hundred-forty-foot blades near an airport is an obvious hazard,” said Wendell Rust, an executive board member of the International Flying Farmers and owner of a private airstrip in the county. “This clarification is not adding anything new to the laws of the FAA or state of Indiana – it’s a consensus by the county with those laws.”
Former plan commission president and current pilot Dennis Thornton also supported the amendment for safe operating clearances near wind farms.
“If your engine quits next to a wind farm, you have no options because there’s blades everywhere,” he said. “With a cell tower there’s options.”
With a favorable recommendation by the plan commission, which held a public meeting April 28, commissioners approved the protective airspace standards that will go into effect in 90 days.
For instance, towers cannot be built in the approach surface, which is land lying beneath the airstrip approach that extends outward uniformly to a width of 1,250 feet at a horizontal distance of 5,000 feet from the runway end.
Transitional, horizontal and conical surfaces include areas elevated up to 5,000 feet above the airport which cannot be penetrated.
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