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Mineral leaders again examine wind turbine decommissioning

KEYSER, W.Va. – The Mineral County commissioners will yet again discuss the decommissioning fund and escrow agreement consent for Pinnacle Wind Farm at their meeting today.

A company in the process of refinancing will be signing any rights it has to assets in the decommissioning fund from Pinnacle Wind Farm LLC over to the bank financing project, according to Mike Bland, county coordinator.

“That doesn’t change how the decommission fund works for us,” said Bland. “Any rights they had to that money will be transfered to another party. If the project would close tomorrow, proper assets that were never used would be released to decommission that project.”

In addition to being on the agenda for the Dec. 13 meeting, the agreement was also discussed at a December 2010 meeting. During last year’s meeting, Kolin Jan, member of Allegheny Highlands Alliance, requested that the commissioners make the agreement public and noted that it should be the state’s responsibility under the West Virginia Public Service Commission and not the county’s responsibility, according to a previous Times-News article.

The commissioners signed the decommissioning agreement in January 2011 with US Wind Force LLC but the Pinnacle Wind Farm was sold to Edison Mission Energy in April. Since ownership was transferred, the commissioners had to make sure all the terms and conditions in the original agreement carried over and the county’s rights were maintained, according to Bland.

The PSC requires wind companies to negotiate a decommissioning agreement before a wind developer can proceed with the installation of wind turbines, according to Bland. The agreement outlines the terms of cleanup and removal of the 23 wind turbines on Green Mountain should the Pinnacle Wind Farm ever cease operations.

Also during the meeting, commissioners will discuss 2012 state legislative issues regarding 911 fees.

“There is currently a bill that is attempting to reduce 911 wireless fees and there will likely be action from the commissioners to oppose this,” said Bland. “We don’t control the wireless 911 fee.”

The 911 fee right now for both a landline and a wireless phone is $3 and the bill would lower the wireless fee down to 75 cents, according to Bland.

Also during the meeting, commissioners are set to adopt a resolution regarding the regional hazard mitigation plan and will discuss the business personal property increase notices and ballot commissioner reappointments.

The meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the commission meeting room in the courthouse.