March 10, 2012

Exelon says it’s working with upset landowners

By Kate Hessling, Assistant News Editor, Huron Daily Tribune, 10 March 2012

ELKTON – A spokesman from Exelon Corp. said Friday the company is working one-on-one with landowners in the Harvest Wind II project to address concerns about land being damaged because of preliminary construction activities for the 59.5 megawatt expansion of Harvest Wind I.

During Wednesday’s Huron County Planning Commission meeting, officials said they had been contacted by landowners in the project area, which includes land in McKinley, Chandler and Oliver townships, because they had concerns that contractors installing underground electrical cables have not been respectful of the farm land, and they fear the activities will affect the condition of the land in the spring.

“To say landowners are irate is putting it mildly,” said Fred Hasen, Huron County Planning Commission chairman.

Bob Judge, communications manager for Exelon Corp., said in the process of trenching land to install underground electrical cable, there have been some issues with equipment because the ground hasn’t frozen as deep as it normally would in this milder-than-normal winter.

“We are handling this situation … and Harvest Wind II will restore the land to the conditions (that existed) before construction,” Judge said, noting conditions in the lease agreements with landowners require the project restore the land to pre-construction conditions. “We are dealing with landowners on a one-to-one basis as this issue arises.”

Exelon still needs final site plan review approval before any wind turbines are erected, and building and zoning officials said the concerns of area landowners will be a topic of discussion when Exelon comes before the planning commission for final approval for its work in McKinley Township.

Oliver and Chandler townships are not under the county’s zoning jurisdiction, but concerns of those landowners will be discussed at the county-level because they are Huron County citizens, planners said Wednesday.

Hasen said Exelon, as well as other wind developers, need to remember they are guests of Huron County, using Huron County’s resources, as wind development projects progress.

Judge said Exelon understands some temporary damage has occurred, and it will restore the land to its pre-digging condition once the trenching is done.

He said trenching began earlier this year, and the project currently is in the beginning phase of construction. Turbine assembly is expected to take place this summer, and the project is expected to be operational by the end of this year.

Project officials previously stated the project will consist of 30 turbines if it uses 2-megawatt turbines and 32 to 33 turbines if it uses 1.8-megawatt turbines.

In the Harvest Wind I project, there are five turbines in Chandler Township and 27 in Oliver.

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