September 17, 2013

No timeline set for ordinance revisions; Wind farm rules in Howard County likely to change in the future

By Ken de la Bastide | Kokomo Tribune | September 17, 2013 |

When asked when they will revise the Howard County wind energy ordinance, the county commissioners said no time frame has been set.

A wind farm opponent brought up the subject Monday.

“We have not set a time frame to amend the county wind ordinance,” Tyler Moore, president of the board of county commissioners said. “We’re confident with the moratorium and with the restrictions placed on the development of wind farms.”

Moore said the commissioners are monitoring the Tipton County Plan Commission’s efforts to amend that county’s wind ordinance.

He said changes to the wind ordinance will be addressed in the future.

Commissioner Paul Wyman said the recent amended agreement with E.ON Climate & Renewables for the proposed expansion of the Wildcat Wind Farm in eastern Howard County set the standards for future wind energy development.

Wyman said he expects the restrictions placed on the Wildcat Wind Farm would be used for any future developments in Howard County.

Howard County imposed a moratorium on future wind energy development in July, exempting the Wildcat Wind Farm from the measure.

Earlier this month, the commissioners approved changes to the economic development agreement with E.ON which included: A 1,500-foot setback from the residences of non-participating property owners and 1,250 feet from participating property owners, instead of 1,050 feet; a change in the allowed noise level from 55 decibels to 50 decibels for non-participating and 52 decibels for participating property owners; a Federal Aviation Administration-approved light shield to limit the observance of the red lights on top of the turbines; shadow flicker restrictions; and wetland protection changes.

The revised economic development agreement reduces the size of the project by approximately 50 percent in the county.

Phase 2, located in Grant and Howard counties, was originally expected to generate 100 megawatts of electricity. Phases 3 and 4 will be located between Greentown and Converse and in the Windfall area, with a possible generating capacity of up to 800 megawatts of electricity.

One megawatt provides electrical energy to approximately 1,000 homes.

Phase 2 was reduced in size to approximately 12 to 20 megawatts and Phase 3 to between 50 and 100 megawatts in Howard County.

E.ON plans to invest up to $20 million during Phase 2 of the project, which is expected to be operational by Sept. 15, 2015, and $100 million on Phase 3, which is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 15, 2017.

E.ON currently is operating Phase 1 of the Wildcat Wind Farm in eastern Tipton County, which began operations on Jan. 1.

The Tipton County Plan Commission is recommending a minimum setback distance of 1,500 feet from a wind turbine to the nearest property line, but then added a provision that a turbine has to be a half-mile (2,640 feet) from the nearest residential structure.

Commission members also approved a recommendation that no wind turbine be located within one mile (5,280 feet) of a municipal boundary or county boundary.

The final revisions to the Tipton County wind ordinance have not been completed.

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