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Future of wind project unclear

A representative of Apex Clean Energy says a recent Rush County decision to cease negotiations with the company regarding the placement of wind turbines in that county has created some unanswered questions.

As was reported in The C-T earlier this week, the Rush County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to cease talks with Apex about the placement of large wind turbines commonly referred to as the Flat Rock Wind Farm. The company’s original plan was to place approximately 65 wind turbines in Rush County, a roughly $200 million investment, and as many as 29 turbines in Henry County, an investment of nearly $100 million.

Dahvi Wilson, Apex Clean Energy’s Senior Manager of Public Affairs, said he is disappointed in the vote as well as the way the matter was handled by the Rush County officials.

“We are disappointed that the commissioners took this action after several of them stated during the Tuesday commissioners’ meeting that they were not prepared to make any decisions about the project. There was no item related to the wind energy project on the agenda for the meeting, and we believe the commissioners’ decision to act without providing any notice that they were considering this issue did a serious disservice to those of their constituents who support the project and were denied the opportunity to share their views,” Wilson said.

He also said it’s unclear whether or not the Rush County vote means the proposed project must be scrapped.

“We are assessing the implications of the commissioners’ action to determine how it may impact the project timeline,” Davis said, adding that the company also is assessing whether or not they will file a legal appeal regarding the decision. As well, Davis said a decision as to whether or not the company will proceed with the Henry County part of its plan has not been made at this time.

Apex has filed a legal appeal regarding a decision made by the Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals that allowed for construction of the turbines but which changed setback requirements for the turbines from 1,000 feet to 2,300 feet. Davis said he isn’t sure what, if any, impact the commissioners’ recent decision may have on that case.

“That proceeding is still in process, and we cannot comment on it at this time,” he said.

Henry County Commissioner Ed Yanos said earlier this week he was disappointed in the vote by his southern counterparts. New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Corey Murphy also voiced his disappointment. Murphy has suggested in the past that Henry County move forward with hosting wind turbines being proposed by Apex as well as NextEra with or without Rush County, which until recently has been a willing partner in such economic development endeavors.

“I’m hoping (Rush County) moves on and takes the additional step of amending their development code to remove the regulations necessary for wind energy to operate there. That would only make sense based on their actions recently” Murphy said at this week’s meeting of the Henry County Commissioners.

He also said he doesn’t know what impact the recent Rush County decision will have on the NextEra project, commonly referred to as the Whitewater Wind Farm, which involves placement of 77 wind turbines including 43 in Fayette County, 25 in Rush County, and eight in Henry County.