SNOW HILL – Worcester County Commissioners gave a Minnesota firm permission to conduct a feasibility study to see if the county landfill would be a suitable site for a wind farm.
The commissioners voted 6-1, with Jim Bunting opposed, to give National Wind the go-ahead to install a meteorological tower at the landfill in Newark and to do an environmental analysis of the site to see if the property would be a viable place for up to a dozen wind turbines.
Patrick Pelstring, co-chairman of the company, said a feasibility study of the property, which would be done at no cost to the county, was the first step in the process of building a wind farm.
“I consider this to be a preliminary request,” Pelstring said. “The first place for us to start is here.”
Pelstring said he expected the feasibility study to take between 90 and 120 days and would include the construction of a 60-meter meteorological tower to measure wind speed at the landfill. The tower would take up about three-quarters of an acre, he said, but would not be a permanent structure.
Company officials would also work with county engineers on an environmental analysis of the property.
Pelstring indicated that a wind farm on the county landfill could yield a lease payment to the county as well as royalties.
“We would not recommend proceeding unless we thought it would be (profitable),” Pelstring said.
County Commissioner Bud Church said he thought county residents would be concerned that a local wind farm would kill birds in the area.
“I’m anticipating that there’d be a huge uproar that we’d be killing thousands of ducks and geese,” he said.
Pelstring assured him that the impacts of a possible wind farm would be investigated before it would ever be constructed.
John Tustin, the county’s Public Works director, said he thought there was little space on the 725-acre landfill for wind turbines. He also said he was worried that turbines would interfere with the landfill’s daily operations.
Pelstring, however, said each turbine only needed an acre or an acre-and-a-half of room. If built, the towers would be 80 meters tall.
“I’d be very surprised if we came back with a recommendation that would disrupt current operations or future plans,” he said.
If approved, the wind farm could be in operation by the spring of 2013.
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