RPM Access, a wind farm development company that has worked on four wind farms in Iowa, has never had issues with theft in the past. But in the last month the company has experienced two separate cases of stolen and damaged equipment at its work site southeast of Beattie.
Marshall County Attorney Laura Johnson-McNish told county commissioners at their Tuesday meeting that the wind farm electrical substation was burglarized over the weekend.
“It’s sad that we have to have thievery in the county,” said commissioner Tom Holle. “It drives the price of everything up.”
The theft at the substation was the second of its kind to happen in the past few weeks.
“The first time was about two weeks ago,” said the substation’s site manager, Tony Nikabadze. “It was on a Friday. We had all the tools and equipment stored in two trailers. The thieves cut the chains on the doors of the trailer and stole a welder and power tools.”
This past weekend thieves struck the site again,” Nikabadze said.
“We had parked skid loaders in front of the trailer doors to prevent thieves from opening the trailer doors. The thieves broke a window on a tractor that was parked in the substation to gain entry to the tractor.
“They hot-wired the tractor and used it to push the skid loaders out from in front of the trailer doors. The thieves stole power tools and a brand-new welder we had bought to replace the welder they had already stolen.”
Nikabadze estimates that each incident of theft has cost RPM Access, Des Moines, Iowa, more than $10,000 in damaged and stolen equipment. The company’s contractor also lost at least a half day of work.
“We have had three other wind farm projects in Iowa and we’ve never had any problems like this,” Nikabadze said.
He said RPM Access is taking security precautions to ensure the thieves are caught if they try to steal from the substation again. The new security measures include motion-sensor lights and 24-hour security cameras, and RPM Access is looking into hiring security guards for the substation.
RPM Access project developer George Black said he is very disappointed with Marshall County and that the thefts did not seem like the kind of thing he would have expected here.
“If people would just not do drugs and get a job they wouldn’t have to steal,” commissioner Charlie Loiseau said.
Also recently stolen in the area were road signs warning of horse and buggies used by some local Amish farmers.
In other action,
—Approved a Neighborhood Revitalization program application for Josh Blumer.
—Met in closed session for 10 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel.
—Met in closed session for five minutes with county public works administrator Mike Craig and public works coordinating supervisor Larry Polson to discuss non-elected personnel.
—Met in closed session for 10 minutes with Johnson-McNish, Craig and Polson to discuss matters of land acquisition.
—Met in closed session for 10 minutes with Marshall County Health Department office manager Mary Weeks to discuss on-elected personnel.
—Met in closed session for 10 minutes with Marshall County Clerk Sonya Stohs to discuss non-elected personnel.