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Couple: Wind farm substation components overshot permitted space  

Credit:  By Jason Schoonover | Austin Daily Herald | November 4, 2015 | www.austindailyherald.com ~~

A Sergeant Township couple is asking the county board to investigate whether the substation for the Pleasant Valley Wind Farm overshot its permitted area.

Dan and Kathy Blanchard, who live near the Pleasant Valley Wind Project substation, went to the board during Tuesday’s regular meeting to voice concerns that a vegetative barrier and junction box surrounding the substation are outside the permitted 2.5-acre scope of the project.

“Is this parcel larger than its permitted for, and is it closer than it should be with the vegetative barrier?” Kathy read from a statement during Tuesday’s meeting. “We ask this board to investigate the size of their parcel and the setbacks from our property line and residence so we can be assured that our property rights and our county ordinances have not been violated.”

An environmental assessment and conditional use permit approved in 2013 called for a fence and vegetative barrier to built around the substation to minimize noise and effects to neighboring properties.

But when including the vegetative barrier and gravel areas, the Blanchards believe the total project area surpassed the 2.5 acres permitted.

According to Kathy, Renewable Energy Systems Americas officials have said they would pull back into the allotted space after post-project reclamation is completed, but the Blanchard’s argued that doesn’t take into account the vegetative barriers and junction boxes which are “clearly out of their 2.5 acre parcel and not in their reclaimed area.”

“We believe their total footprint to be approximately 4.5 to 5 acres,” she said.

Kathy also said the substation’s west fence is about 950 feet from their residence, not the 1,200 feet stated in the environmental assessment plan.

Environmental Services Director Angie Knish is investigating the request. While the fenced in area and the general substation apparatus are within the 2.5-acre parcel, she said she and other county workers would need to investigate further and take measurements to determine if the junction boxes and vegetative barriers are in compliance.

She also said she’d also thoroughly go back over the scoping document and permit for the substation.

The board thanked the Blanchards for coming before them.

“I do appreciate you coming in,” Board Chairman Mike Ankeny said. “She’ll further investigate that.”

If RES is found to be in violation of its permit, county staff says they would have the opportunity to get the space into compliance before any stricter action would be taken.

RES Americas was slated to finish construction last month on the 200-megawatt Pleasant Valley Wind Farm, which was slated to be sold to Xcel Energy after completion. The post-work reclamation to restore the area and roads after the project is ongoing.

The project features 88 turbines in Mower County near Sergeant and Dexter, along with two turbines in Dodge County.

RES officials were not in attendance Tuesday.

Source:  By Jason Schoonover | Austin Daily Herald | November 4, 2015 | www.austindailyherald.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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