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Proposed wind project discontinued

A proposed wind project in Mason and Fleming counties that has divided the May’s Lick community for nearly a year will be discontinued.

Duke Energy Renewables has been conducting tests and collecting data in the May’s Lick and northwestern area of Fleming County since at least spring 2013. In addition, land leases have been signed with several property owners in Mason County, as the company assembled tracts of land for as many as 100 wind turbines.

Late Thursday, Mason County Judge-Executive James L. “Buddy” Gallenstein received a copy of a letter sent to Jeff Derouen at the Kentucky Public Service Commission from Duke Energy Renewables stating the company’s intent to discontinue the project.

The letter was signed by Milton R. Howard, executive, wind and solar development at Duke Energy Renewables.

Copies of the letter were also sent to State Rep. Mike Denham, Fleming County Judge-Executive Larry Foxworthy, Mason County Attorney John Estill, Fleming County Attorney John Price, and Kate Shanks, executive director, Office of the Secretary, Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Within the letter, Howard states, “This purpose of this letter is to document Duke Energy Renewables’ intent to discontinue the “Flemingsburg” wind project that was being studied for possible development in Mason and Fleming counties.”

“We believe at this time, the project’s likelihood of success is marginal, and therefore plan on exploring other areas that require less resources in early-stage development and have a higher likelihood of success. As you know, Duke Energy Renewables must first determine if a project is viable before moving forward with development. It often takes some time to complete this process, and many factors influence our analysis.”

Howard also states the project is being developed by Duke Energy Renewables, not Duke Energy Kentucky.

Gallenstein received the letter Friday and promptly notified county commissioners of the turn of events.

He said a public hearing scheduled for Monday, May 12 of the Mason County Joint Planning Commission needs to go forward, despite the discontinuance of the project.

Gallenstein noted considerable time and money has been expended by members of the JPC to research and educate themselves on wind power, as they moved toward the goal of making recommendations to county officials on how best to regulate such an industry.

“The planning commission needs to go forward with a decision to address the issue and the (fiscal) court needs to address, in ordinance form, the subject,” Gallenstein said Friday morning. “I think we can come up with an ordinance to benefit the entire county.”

Joe Pfeffer, spokesperson for the Citizens Voice of Mason County group which has spearheaded opposition to the project, agreed with Gallenstein.

Pfeffer said because Mason County has now been the target of two wind projects, one in 2011 by Next Era that is allegedly ongoing and now by Duke Renewables, citizens and officials need to be cautious.

“We need to be cautious that the issue may not be dead … I think it is a must to have an ordinance,” said Pfeffer. “I would encourage the Joint Planning Commission and court to proceed with development of ordinances regulating wind farms.”

Pfeffer said he will be in attendance at Monday’s public hearing and it is still his intention to seek the office of judge-executive in the November general election.

The Joint Planning Commission public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., at Maysville Community and Technical College, Fields Auditorium.