Representatives from two renewable energy companies looking at locations in Palo Alto County were on hand to give a positive perspective on the proposed wind farms during the regular meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors held Tuesday, February 9.
“The Supervisors and the Zoning Board have wanted to remain neutral regarding any opinion where wind mills are concerned from the beginning. The perception, it seems, is that we were coming across negative against wind mills,” Supervisor Chairman Linus Solberg began. “I called both companies to have them come in and tell us all the good things about wind mills. I want this to be a positive meeting.”
Invenergy Representatives Mark Zaccone, Kevin Parzyck and Dani Zimmerman were on hand to give the highlights on renewable energy.
“Invenergy has wind farms from New York to Washington. Currently, we are working on a 500 megawatt wind farm in O’Brien County with an additional 250 megawatts to be added next year,” Kevin Parzyck, Vice President of Development for Invenergy began. “We develop, own and operate many of our own farms. We have experience in what it takes and the problems that may be encountered in the long term.”
Every state is different when it comes to wind and wind energy. It is important to understand these variations with the different states. Iowa is a wind rich state that has embraced wind energy. Right now, Iowa produces 6,000 megawatts of wind energy and is second in the country behind Texas in wind energy production. Wind energy makes up about 28 percent of energy produced in Iowa is enough to supply 1.5 million homes with electricity.
“In Iowa alone, there are 215 businesses connected with wind energy with roughly 6,000 employees,” Parzyck said. “Beyond that, there are many other benefits to consider. On a 300 MW project, the owner/operator will pay $1.7 million in new property taxes to the county. Plus the landowner will receive payments annually of approximately $10,000.”
“Also, constructing a wind farm will bring in 150-200 skilled laborers into the county for about one and half years. On the county side of the equations, no money is put out for infrastructure. The wind energy company puts out all money for construction,” Parzyck said. “We will maintain and repair roads, pay for crop damage, and pay for any tile damage.”
RES Americas had a similar take on wind energy projects in the county. RES is more focused on the engineering and construction phases of wind farms. Their current project is the Lost Island Wind Project in the western part of the county.
“We currently have a commitment to a 150 MW project for 25 years. In that time frame, $39 million will be paid to the county in taxes with $840,000 going to the school districts. The first year will see $1 million in landowner payments with $32 million over the project lifetime in landowner payments,” said Jeff Jackson, Development Manager from RES Americas. “The $300,000 power plant will create six to ten full time jobs.”
“Responsible zoning is prudent and every line of an ordinance affects a project from setbacks to public notices to roads. Anything that is put in writing impacts a project.”
Daryl Haack, landowner from Primghar added, “Everyone is concerned with how much farmland this type of project takes up. I have two windmills on my farm. One uses one-eighth acre with access road and the other one uses one-half acre with road. Not much farmland is utilized.”
“MidAmerican has also agreed to turn the turbines to allow aerial spraying when the time comes. So there has been very little impact on farm management due to the windmills. I also receive a yearly payment of $10,000 per windmill,” Haack continued.
Further discussion regarding the positive aspects of wind farms continued with information being given out to the Supervisors and area farmers.
In other business, the Palo Alto County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth was on hand to present for approval a contract with Heartland Asphalt Inc. of Mason City for the paving of a four miles stretch of B14 west of Graettinger. The bid entered was for $929,649 and received unanimous approval.
Cinda Joynt was on had to inform the Supervisors that Penny Murphy from Ruthven has been hired by Upper Des Moines to handle General Relief for the county. She will begin work on Thursday.
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