March 26, 2015

County committee clarifies wind turbine ordinance

RYAN VOYLES, H&R Staff Writer | Herald & Review | March 25, 2015 |

DECATUR – Macon County officials have added clarification to the ordinance to allow wind turbines in the county.

The amended ordinance would rephrase the language to make clear the county has no power to control the placement of turbines within a 1½-mile radius of a municipality.

The change was passed unanimously by the county’s Siting, Rules and Ordinance committee Monday night and will head to the full board next month for approval.

Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Baggett said the change was made clarify the original ordinance’s language, which could lead some to read it as though the county could forbid turbines from being built in that location.

“You are not creating new law,” he told the committee Monday night. “You are just making sure that our ordinance conforms with the law.”

By law, municipalities are the only entity with to power to site a wind turbine within 1½ miles of their boundaries. The municipality could, by written agreement, give the county the authority to site the turbines, a responsibility the county could accept.

The county would have the authorization to site any turbines that lie beyond the that specific radius of any municipality.

The clean-up language comes as the county continues to work toward bringing from 100 to 175 turbines to the northern part of the county near Maroa. Officials from E.ON, the American unit of Germany’s largest utility company planning to build the substation and turbines, have previously said more feasibility studies and other preparation work needed to be done before the turbines could be constructed and in full operation, with a target of 2016 for completion.

According to county officials, the turbines could generate between $30 million to $45 million in new tax revenue over the life of the project, which is expected to be 25 years.

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