LEWISVILLE – Approximately 50 people attended an informational forum Tuesday at The Gathering, just east of this small Henry County town on U.S. Hwy 40. The meeting was hosted by Apex Clean Energy and focused on what’s involved with the construction of the type of large wind turbines being proposed for placement in Henry, Rush and Fayette counties.
“We’re here to give a presentation which we call Conversations on Wind, and it it’s just an opportunity to educate anybody from the general area who is interested in learning more about wind energy in general. It’s not a meeting specifically about the Flat Rock Wind project, it’s more about the general construction of wind farms,” explained Brenna Gunderson, a senior development manager with Apex.
Road use, machine and turbine size, soil compaction and the damage and repair of field drainage tiles were also topics discussed, as were how the turbines are connected via underground cabling and how the energy produced by turbines is then transmitted to the nation’s power grid.
A Road Use Agreement between Apex and Henry County has not yet been finalized, but Gunderson said the two sides are very close to coming to terms and that she expects such an agreement to be in place before long.
“The Road Use Agreement is what is used by us to keep the public roads taken care of, so we don’t leave anything in worse condition than it was before we got here. We also have lease agreements with the landowners involved that deal with things like crop damage, compaction and things that might occur on their property,” she added.
Gunderson said at this time Apex is focusing on sharing information about wind energy and turbines that she believes will help alleviate some of the concerns people in the area may have about the proposed Flat Rock Wind project.
Apex’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. The project hit a snag when the Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals amended previously-established setback requirements for the turbines involved. Apex has filed a legal appeal regarding that decision.
Opinions about erecting turbines in this area were mixed at Tuesday’s forum.
“I just wanted to hear what they have to say,” Stu Linville, a nearby Rush County resident, said. “I do have concerns with (the proposed project). From everything I’ve heard, I just don’t think they’re a good fit for Rush County and I’ve got several friends here in Henry County who feel the same way. They don’t feel like they’re a good fit for the county in the long term. Setbacks and things like that are a pretty big concern.”
“I’m one of the landowners that’s part of the project. I’m just here because they’re going to show us how one (of the turbines) is built,” Rush County resident Verlin Custer said. “I think they’re a good deal.”
The Henry County Commissioners and the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation have endorsed the proposed Flat Rock Wind project. Opponents of the plan cite a variety of concerns including the turbines possible negative impact on nearby residents’ health.
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