Pipestone County Commissioners during their July 12 meeting granted a wind rights easement, contingent upon review of the agreement by the county attorney, to EDF Renewable Development, Inc., for the Stoneray Wind Farm the company plans to construct northwest of Woodstock.
The wind rights easement prohibits Pipestone County from obstructing “the free flow of wind” through the area. The county is also prohibited from making improvements to the property within 1,200 feet of any wind turbine and making any improvements that include any structures over 50 feet high for 37 years.
Plans for the project include a 100-megawatt wind farm consisting of 50, 2-megawatt wind turbines. Curtis Nordick, manager of land acquisition for EDF Renewable Development, said the project has been in development since about 2002.
EDF Renewable Development will pay Pipestone County $20 per acre for the wind rights on the 200-acre piece of county-owned property with a 2.5 percent annual escalator, meaning the payment will be $4,000 the first year and increase each year after that.
Luke Johnson, county board chair, questioned the wind easement because it limits the county’s use of its property for the next 37 years, but voted with the rest of the board to approve the agreement.
Nordick also asked the commissioners what terms they’d like to see in a land easement where EDF Renewable Development plans to run lines from the wind farm beneath a 50-by 750-foot portion of county owned land that’s part of the gravel pit area but not mined yet, and is currently rented out for agricultural use, an arrangement that could continue under the wind and land easements.
Commissioners said they’d prefer the company run their lines in the road right-of-way, but Nordick said the company prefers not to due to the risk of having to relocate lines for roadwork. The commissioners suggested EDF keep its lines as near the edge of the county property as possible.
Once the 37 years are up, the company would remove the lines, according to Nordick.
Dave Halbersma, Pipestone County highway engineer, said he could mine gravel around the requested easement during the life of the agreement.
Bruce Kooiman, county commissioner, said he saw the agreements as a financial benefit to the county that would generate revenue for the next 37 years. He didn’t want to
stand in the way of progress.
“It’s progress, but you could have the same progress and not be on our property,” Johnson said.
EDF will bring a proposed land easement agreement back to the county board back for consideration at a later time.
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