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Board of Adjustments approves Huxley windfarm proposal, tables second application  

Credit:  By Melissa Erickson, Staff writer | Ames Tribune | November 07, 2013 | amestrib.com ~~

An application for a proposed wind farm near Huxley was approved by the Story County Board of Adjustments Wednesday, while an application for a proposed wind farm between Ames and Nevada was tabled due to “too many loose ends” regarding changes to the original application.

Optimum Renewables LLC of Des Moines received approval on their application for Optimum One, a three-turbine wind farm to be built approximately one mile southwest of Huxley.

Optimum Renewables CEO Steve Thompson said Optimum One may end up only having two turbines, a decision he said which will be “finalized in the next few weeks.”

“As needs for power grow, it’s possible we would add another turbine later on, but it’s not likely,” Thompson said.

The application for Optimum Two was tabled due to what Board of Adjustments Chairman David Miller called “too many loose ends as far as what we have to document and what we have to change” on the application.

Optimum Two is a proposed four turbine wind farm to be built between Ames and Nevada. Three of the turbines would be between Lincoln Highway and U.S. Highway 30, and the fourth would be south of Highway 30.

One of the questions Optimum Renewables is working on concerns the access driveway to the fourth turbine. They are required to obtain a driveway entrance permit for access onto 590th Street, a level B road. Currently, the Story County engineer doesn’t allow improvements to level B roads, meaning Optimum Renewables needs to look for an alternate access location.

The other change to the application is a change to the placement of the northernmost turbine. Thompson said this change came about after he spoke with homeowner Scott Wendt about the amount of shadow flicker, or the shadow the rotating turbine blades would cast at certain times of day, on Wendt’s home.

The new placement, Thompson said, would decrease the amount of shadow flicker on Wendt’s home from approximately 100 hours per year to 10-20 hours per year.

Wendt, who said he was satisfied with Optimum Renewables’ solution to move the turbine, asked the Board of Adjustments to consider adding a shadow flicker regulation to conditional use permits, citing it as a nuisance.

“I really think this needs to be controlled,” Wendt said. “If the applicant hadn’t been nice and willing to work with us, they could have still met the requirements and built the turbine.”

Thompson said it “wasn’t difficult” to work with Wendt on the location change.

“Scott had a legitimate complaint,” Thompson said. “We’ll be in the project long term, so from our standpoint, we want the local residents and homeowners to be happy with the plans.”

Thompson said Optimum Renewables will have to submit a layout plan for the project.

“We would have done that already, but we were struggling with the government shutdown and couldn’t get an FAA response quick enough,” Thompson said.

Miller said while the Board of Adjustments can’t write new regulations, they can make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for regulations to be changed or new ones to be considered.

Optimum Renewables is also proposing a third wind farm, Optimum Three, consisting of one turbine, to be built northeast of Nevada. The Story County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval for this application Monday. The application will now go before the Board of Adjustments at its Dec. 4 meeting.

Thompson said the turbines will be manufactured by Acciona Windpower, a Spanish construction company, and may come from Acciona’s West Branch location as his company is “trying to encourage manufacturing in Iowa.”

According to the applications, the hub height of each turbine would be approximately 302 feet, with a rotor diameter of 380 feet. The total height of each structure would be 492 feet.

Story County Development Director for Planning and Development Leanne Harter said Optimum Renewables will need to apply for zoning permits for each turbine.

Thompson said construction on the wind farms is predicted for the second quarter of 2014.

“There may be some preliminary work done this year yet on access roads and such, but the main work will be done second quarter,” Thompson said.

According to the Board of Adjustment, there have now been over 100 C-WECS, or wind energy conversion systems, constructed in Story County.

A wind energy conversion system may include any device, such as a wind turbine or charger that converts wind energy to power.

Source:  By Melissa Erickson, Staff writer | Ames Tribune | November 07, 2013 | amestrib.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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