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Rush County wind vote tabled

RUSHVILLE – It will be at least another month before a Florida-based energy company learns whether or not Rush County will be a part of its proposed three-county-wide wind farm.

The Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday night, in front of an audience of roughly 100 people at the Laughlin Auditorium in Rushville High School, moved to table its vote on the special exception permits submitted by NextEra Energy Resources – West Fork Wind LLC – for the construction of 22 industrial wind turbines as part of NextEra’s proposed West Fork Wind Energy Center project.

The reason for the tabling of the vote, per the BZA, was to have more time to review the data which presenters at the meeting – both NextEra representatives along with residents both in support and against the project – provided.

The BZA will resume its discussion on the special exception permits submitted by NextEra at its Wednesday, Dec. 14 meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Rush County Courthouse, following its regularly-scheduled meeting that night.

The roughly $250 million wind project, which the Rush County BZA heard about the Rush County portion of Wednesday night, would encompass Rush, Fayette and Henry counties, with more than 70 wind turbines spread throughout the three county area – the bulk of those being in Posey and Fairview townships in Fayette County.

The project, according to its manager Zachary Melda and NextEra’s attorney, Mary Solada of Indianapolis, is still in search of a buyer for the electricity which would be produced by the wind farm, but have recently stated to the Fayette County public the project is close to securing a buyer.

The tabling of NextEra’s special exception permit applications isn’t the only ongoing situation involving area governments and wind projects, either, as Apex Clean Energy – of which some representatives were in attendance during Wednesday’s meeting – and Rush County are still embroiled in an ongoing civil suit regarding the proposed Flat Rock Wind Farm project, specifically about the setback distance for the wind turbines from non-participating landowners property. That case is still ongoing in the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In Fayette County, meanwhile, NextEra and Fayette County commissioners – along with a group of Fayette County residents opposed to the West Fork Wind Energy Project – are still awaiting a decision from Special Judge Clay Kellerman of Franklin County whether to allow a civil suit involving those parties to proceed in the courts. That suit, brought against the county and NextEra by the residents’ group, claims that NextEra’s decommissioning agreement with Fayette County is invalid and does not adhere to the county’s zoning ordinances.

No decision, as of Thursday, had been made in that case.