May 4, 2012

Proposed windfarm site gains approval

By Kate Hessling, Assistant News Editor, Huron Daily Tribune, 4 May 2012

BAD AXE – The way has been paved for Exelon Wind LLC to move forward with its Harvest Wind II Windfarm.

The Huron County Planning Commission on Wednesday completed its site plan review and granted final approval for the project, which allows Exelon to proceed with obtaining building permits for the new development.

Company officials previously explained Harvest Wind II will consist of 33 wind turbines in McKinley, Oliver and Chandler townships. The majority of the project will be located in Oliver and Chandler townships, which are self-zoned. Those townships have approved the project. The county planning commission’s role in the project was to consider the portion of the project that will consist of five wind turbines in McKinley Township. The project is anticipated to go online by the end of the year.

Last month, county planners were reluctant to grant Exelon final approval until the company submitted a number of documents, including ones that give adequate financial assurance to satisfy the decommissioning requirements in the county’s wind energy ordinance. Planners wanted to make sure there are protections in place prior to the project’s approval, so the county won’t be liable for the cost of taking turbines down in the future.

Since the planning commission’s April meeting, Exelon submitted a third-party bond and a corporate guarantee. The surety bond is for $200,000 per turbine, and the corporate guarantee will pay for any costs exceeding $200,000 in the event the turbines have to be taken down and the cost of doing so exceeds $200,000 per turbine.

During Wednesday’s meeting, a company spokesman said Exelon intends to file similar documents for its Michigan Wind I project in the Ubly area by the planning commission’s July 11 meeting. That project was approved in 2005, and the county did not require a decommissioning bond or corporate guarantee be posted at that time. Some residents and officials, including Huron County Commissioner David Peruski, have been concerned about the lack of protection in place.

Peruski told county planners on Wednesday he wants to see a bond and corporate guarantee posted for Michigan Wind I so it meets all the requirements the same requirements that have to be met by other wind developments in the county.

In other wind development matters on Wednesday, the planning commission set a public hearing to get public input regarding DTE Energy’s request to have a wind overlay district in Section 13 of McKinley Township. The portion of McKinley township is part of a project DTE is planning in Chandler and Oliver townships. Smith said it’s anticipated the project will consist of 70 wind turbines, the majority of which will be sited in Chandler Township.

The hearing for DTE’s request in McKinley Township will be held during the board’s next regular meeting, which is set for June 6 at a location that’s still to be determined.

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