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Impasse over salvage value of wind turbines in Champaign County

URBANA – Developers of a 30-turbine wind farm proposed for northeast Champaign County said Thursday that they have reached an impasse with county officials over the role of including the value of salvaged materials in covering the decommissioning costs of the project.

The county’s negotiator in the project, Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Fletcher, said that including salvage value is a policy issue regarding the interpretation of the county’s wind farm ordinance, and that that issue must be decided by either the county zoning board of appeals or the county board.

“Salvage value can, I believe, play a role here,” Fletcher said. “That’s why this is a policy role for you to make. It’s not a black and white legal decision.”

Invenergy officials argued that Champaign County officials have attached a stricter interpretation to their ordinance that could kill the project in the county.

“My point is that if you interpret it as excluding salvage value,” said Invenergy attorney Michael Blazer, ‘you would be interpreting cost in a way that no other county has.”

Invenergy has estimated its decommissioning costs in Champaign County at $5.7 milion, and projected the salvage value of the 30 turbines at $4.8 million.

Kevin Parzyck, vice president of development for Invenergy, said that not including salvage value in calculations would add millions of dollars to the cost of the project.

“As you can imagine, as we evaluate this, that just makes it unreasonable for us to provide turbines in the location,” he said. “Going beyond that would be very difficult, and we’d have to look at some alternatives to our layout if that’s the case.”

Already most of the so-called California Ridge project would be located to the east in Vermilion County.

Even though Thursday’s meeting of the zoning board was the sixth on the wind farm project, the board continued the case to a seventh evening, meaning the county board will get the case no sooner than its November meeting. The next zoning board meeting will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington St., U

Invenergy also said Thursday that it has reached road agreements with the two townships affected by the project, but the details of the agreements were not released.