HURON COUNTY – Exelon Generation Company has once again asked commissioners to allow a change in the way the company guarantees funds for possible future turbine decommissioning for the Harvest II Wind Farm.
This time, the board responded that the request might be granted, but only if the county gets something in return.
Doug Duimering represented Exelon Tuesday during the county’s regular Board of Commissioners meeting. He asked that commissioners allow the company to replace the $1 million surety bond and corporate guarantee that the company has for decommissioning with a bond supplemented by a guarantee from Continental Wind, a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelon.
The company has stated the change is needed because the current system of guaranteeing the funds forces Exelon to keep the $1 million on their books, preventing the company from making future investments.
Duimering argued that the change would not negatively impact the county. Also, he said, Continental Wind has an investment-grade rating. If it ever drops below investment grade, by law, Exelon would have to replace the guarantee.
In July, Exelon requested commissioners allow the company to substitute the bond and corporate guarantee with a letter of credit in the amount of $1 million from an A-rated bank. At the time, commissioners flat out refused the change.
Despite Duimering’s insistence that Exelon attempted to meet ordinance requirements with Tuesday’s request, commissioners were still hesitant to allow any change to the status quo.
“My issue with this is this company did not exist a month ago,” said Commissioner Ron Wruble. “And, a month from now, it could not exist again.”
Duimering responded that Continental Wind currently owns $1 billion worth of projects, and the company took on 22 years worth of debt when it was formed.
“It can’t just disappear,” he said.
The commissioners told Duimering they’d be much more willing to consider the company’s proposal if Exelon would sweeten the deal. Commissioner Steve Vaughan said he’d like to see better guarantees in place to ensure money is available to decommission Harvest I, which is owned by Exelon and comprises 44 turbines in Chandler Township. At the time that wind park was developed, the county had too little experience with wind park zoning to know how much should be set aside for decommissioning. As a result, companies were not required to guarantee as much money per turbine as they are now.
Duimering responded that he cannot approve Vaughan’s request on the spot, but he will take it back to Exelon for consideration.
In other business during Tuesday’s meeting:
• Jeanne Henry and Lori Babcock were elected to serve four-year terms on the County Board of Canvassers.
• Carole Kata was appointed to the Human Services Board for a three-year term.
• David W. Fisher, Gary V. Krug and James H. Czewski were appointed to three-year terms on the Department of Public Works Board.
• The board allowed the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator position to be reclassified from pay grade 11 to pay grade 10, as requested by the Huron County Health Officer.
• The board voted to extend the leases between Huron County and the Huron Development Commission for office space and for the operation of a commercial kitchen at the Huron County Senior Center for the term of one year, from Oct. 1, 2013 until Sept. 30, 2014.
• The board granted permission to Huron County SafePlace to hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Huron County Building on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
• The board approved the release of 2.71 acres from PA 116, as requested by Janice Sageman.
• Rebecca Finkbeiner was employed as a full time clerk/accountant in the county clerk and public guardian offices, with salary of $26,992, effective Oct. 8.
• The board proclaimed October 2013 as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”
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