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Wind officials postpone addressing planning commission

Officials representing the Big Blue River Wind Farm project will not speak at the April 21 Henry County Planning Commission as previously scheduled.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Rachel White, Henry County zoning administrator, said she received notice of an indefinite continuance from the law firm representing Calpine, the company that owns the wind project.

The continuance was regarding the construction of a potential meteorological tower in Sulphur Springs.

“On behalf of Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC, we hereby respectfully request an indefinite continuance regarding the proposed Commission Approved Use for the purpose of installing a 100-meter tall meteorological tower,” said a letter from legal firm Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP to the planning commission.

“The Big Blue River Wind Farm is evaluating the wind data gathered to date and is in the process of determining the optimal location for the proposed met tower. Once that evaluation is complete, will will inform the Planning Commission on how we wish to proceed,” the letter said.
What affect this continuance had on the future of the wind farm project wasn’t immediately clear at press time. Previously, Calpine was looking to eventually place 80 to 100 wind turbines in Fall Creek, Harrison, Jefferson and Prairie townships. The turbines could be 400 to 499 feet tall from the ground to the fully-vertical blade tip and would produce 200 megawatts of electricity. This would be the first windfarm project for the energy company.

However, many area residents have voiced opposition to the project. More than 150 people attended a community meeting earlier this month to discuss it. Another meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 at the W.G. Smith Building in Memorial Park.

Susie (Painter) Eichhorn, a Madison County resident who regularly spends time on her family’s Henry County farm, does not want wind turbines to be placed nearby. A representative from Calpine approached her family about a month ago regarding leasing some of their land for the wind farm.

Thursday, Eichhorn said she didn’t know what to think about the met tower continuance.

“I would rather have it come before the planning commission,” she said. “I was hoping they wouldn’t meet the ordinance requirements and the planning commission would deny their application. I don’t know how to feel about it. I do think they are probably continuing it because it of the effort they are hearing against the project.”

Despite the met tower continuance, the Henry County Planning Commission will still meet as scheduled at 6:30 p.m. April 21 on the second floor of the Henry County Courthouse, 101 S. Main St., New Castle to conduct other business.