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Prairie Mills Wind Farm project still moving forward but little new information

New York-based Global Wind Harvest still plans to move forward with a $300 million wind farm project in Adams County, even though Acciona Energy is no longer a partner and a timeframe for submitting an application has not been established.

Acciona Energy pulled out of the project several months ago, but Erich Bachmeyer, vice president for Global Wind Harvest, said the company is continuing to move forward with a plan to install 96 wind turbines somewhere in eastern Adams County.

“The transfer of assets from Acciona is complete, and we are working out a new (joint venture),” Bachmeyer said. “At the moment things are still being structured, so I can’t comment. I hope things are completed within the coming weeks.”

Building a wind farm in Adams County has been discussed since 2008, but opposition arose last year, forcing the Adams County Board to revise an ordinance governing wind energy development.

The county wind ordinance, approved in August 2010, requires a setback of 1,320 feet from the primary structure of a nonparticipating property, an increase from the original 1,000 feet approved in January 2010.

Adams County Board Chairman Mike McLaughlin said he has had little contact with Global Wind Harvest representatives in recent months.

“They have told us in the past that they are going to have to do other studies,” McLaughlin said, noting the company will also have to get a power purchase agreement before moving forward. “I think they said they wouldn’t be able to do these environmental studies until late in the year, so I think that might be what they are waiting on.”

The location of the proposed wind farm raised alarms for Golden, Clayton and Camp Point, all of which instituted 1.5-mile buffers restricting the development of wind turbines. County residents who have argued for stricter regulations on wind farms have kept an eye on the progress, but haven’t heard any new information about the Global Winds Harvest project, either.

“We’re keeping our ears open,” said John Gebhardt, spokesman for the Advocates for Responsible Energy Development.

Global Wind Harvest has not submitted a permit application to Adams County to build wind turbines. Once it does, the application for permits will be reviewed by the County Board’s Transportation, Building and Technology Committee.

A public hearing will then be scheduled, with a notice to be published in a local newspaper no less than 30 days before the hearing. The committee will then decide whether to recommend that the permit be approved, approved with conditions or denied.

The County Board would then have final say on the matter. The board also could send the application back to the committee for further study.