PRINCETON – Pittsburgh-based EverPower Wind Co. is now the formal owner of Big Sky Wind Farm, which is located in northern Bureau County, the Bureau County Board heard during Monday night’s meeting.
But with that came more concerns on eventual decommissioning of the turbines and what that means for the county’s landowners and taxpayers.
At last month’s meeting, the board was looking into a letter of credit for the decommissioning plan as opposed to the existing cash-on-hand arrangements that already have been in place. Board members previously indicated they didn’t have enough information to move forward with a letter of credit, but last night Bureau County state’s attorney Pat Herrmann said the board has three options: They can either move forward with the letter of credit of just over $1.9 million, keep funds as they are currently or accept the cash that is in the cash escort account.
“I have concerns about the letter of credit,” Ed Gerdes said. “Two different issues is the amount and how that’s guaranteed.”
Based on a similar project, Gerdes said the total cost to take down 87 wind turbines came out just over $19.4 million which is approximately $224,000 per turbine.
“That’s one of the big problems we have is there’s only $1.9 million,” Gerdes said of what he says could be a $10 million-$12 million project. “That’s maybe going to take down nine turbines. Who’s going to pay for the rest?
“I don’t think the taxpayers should have to pay for taking those down. The other problem we have is that when landowners signed these leases with these companies they were promised that if this doesn’t work they’ll come back and take the turbine down. They also promised that if they weren’t here, the county would have money set aside to take them down. The county isn’t going to have money so I think all these landowners might end up with a bill for $150-$200,000 to dispose of these turbines.”
Gerdes also expressed concerned about the tax levy expiration in 2016 and what might happen if a new bank took over the letter of credit. However, Michael Speerschneider, who has been representing EverPower Wind Co., said the $1.9 million is an increase to where it was at two years ago and that number is expected to increase over the next 20 years to approximately $3 million.
The board approved a motion to go into negotiations to accept the letter of credit.
*In other news, The board approved a proposal from Butler Insurance of medical coverage and approved the Lawyer’s Professional liability insurance premium and renewal from Dimond Bros. for $3,578 for the public defender.