EUREKA – Gamesa has run into a stiff headwind in its effort to transfer ownership of the Minonk Wind Farm.
At issue is whether the special-use permit granted to create the wind farm is transferable to a new owner. The Spanish wind farm developer agreed in the spring to sell four wind farms, including Minonk’s, to Canadian-based Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. in a deal worth about $900 million.
While Gamesa argues the special-use permit as written allows the transfer, opponents say the permit was structured incorrectly and in violation of the county’s zoning code.
“Special-use permits are not transferable, but somehow it got put in (this permit). If you sell the business, the special-use permit goes away,” said Woodford County Board member Doug Huser, chairman of the conservation, zoning and planning committee.
Gamesa Chief Development Officer Jiddu Tapia told the committee last week his company would continue to work out how to proceed with Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger.
“The county ordinance says a special-use permit cannot be transferred,” Minger said. “However, the granted special use is in conflict with that, and (Gamesa) relied on that.”
Tapia told the committee that from the beginning of development, his company intended to sell the wind farm as it neared completion, likely sometime in late November or early December. Tapia said Gamesa would continue to abide by all the terms in the special-use permit.
“We are not a long-term developer and operator,” Tapia said. “Gamesa takes the risk to develop and construct the wind farms then turn them over to companies who want to operate them. This is essentially how all wind farms work.”
Huser said political maneuvering altered the special-use permit approved in 2010 into the document that finally was used.
“This just wasn’t a mistake; this was ramrodded through,” Huser said. “This is what irks me.”
Committee member Shannon Rocke said mistakes were made by a County Board with different members, a different state’s attorney and different zoning officer, so the current board needs to learn from the mistakes and move on.
“I think this whole thing is not necessarily (Gamesa’s) fault,” Rocke said. “The board that voted on this did not do this correctly. … This whole problem is because we didn’t do our job.”
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