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First of its kind ‘farm’ proposed for Berrien County

A Virginia based builder of wind farms wants to build one in Berrien County.

Apex Clean Energy plans to have up to 40 turbines dot the landscape and the official effort to sign landowners to lease agreements is underway.

“Anywhere from 28 to 40 (turbines) depending on how man property owners they can get involved,” said Weesaw Township Trustee Gary Sommers. “They have offered a contract which is actually a lease for the land that they’re wanting to get involved with the wind farm, I’m not aware that anyone has signed it.”

The project went public has the company held a public meeting last week in Weesaw Township.

So while officials efforts to build Berrien County’s first wind farm are off and running—it’s clear, they’re running against the wind.

“The planning commission as I talked to the chairman says that when they wrote the present ordinance, they put in there, and this is about five years ago, that Weesaw Township would not allow any commercial wind farms,” Sommers said.

That’s no guarantee that the political winds in Weesaw can’t change—depending on the level of success Apex has in getting leases signed.

“So if enough property owners sign contracts the wind farm company will be coming to our planning commission to ask us to change our wind ordinance,” said Township Resource Person Jack Dodds. “Global warming is real and I think that we have to do something about it, I wonder whether wind energy is the right solution.”

Apex has proposed up to 40 turbines that would each be 600 feet tall, essentially bringing structures as subtle as skyscrapers to a landscape that pretty much tops out with silos.

“There are a lot of different reactions that people have to turbines. Some people find them majestic, other people, as Gary indicated are very much bothered by the noise,” said Dodds. “I think most of us that live here came here because this is a wonderful quiet rural place to live, we’d hate to see that change.”

Apex is now involved in about 60 wind energy projects across the nation, including four in Indiana. Apex Public Affairs Manager Dan Blondeau issued a written statement to NewsCenter 16, saying that the company is looking at Berrien County because of the existing high voltage lines, the road network, and the open farmland. “If the project moves forward it would benefit the community in the near term with construction jobs and local purchasing of materials and services. In the long term, the project would deliver sustained revenue for local landowners, governments, and schools.”

Apex says the so-called Galien Oaks Wind project is in the development stage and it’s too early to tell if the idea will be viable.

Blondeau writes that projects like this typically take “several years” to mature.