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Testing OK’d for possible second wind farm in Williams County

The Williams County Commission has granted a wind energy company permission to perform testing using meteorological towers to determine whether to pursue the construction of a second wind farm near Tioga.

Trade Wind Energy will install six tall, thin poles to take wind measurements for the Aurora Wind Project, which, if approved, will be located near Lindahl Wind Farm in the center of the county.

Should information gathered from the towers show favorable conditions, the Kansas-based company will likely apply for permits next year, Brice Barton of Trade Wind Energy said. If approved, construction on the wind farm should start in 2019, he added.

Although the county’s planning and zoning board voted unanimously to recommend installation of the towers last month, the proposal met with some skepticism from at least one commissioner.

Martin Hanson pointed out that Lindahl Farm, which was designed by Trade Wind Energy, was sold to an Italian company soon after construction began, a fact that he suggested was not made clear, despite Barton’s assertion that the purchase agreement was not secret.

“It’s not a level playing field until everybody puts their cards on the table,” Hanson said. He added that a wind farm in Stark County generated so much opposition that similar projects weren’t approved for a specified time in order to allow residents a chance to offer feedback.

“I don’t think that’s a bad idea,” Hanson said. His was the sole vote against the testing.

The 197-foot towers are to be placed on private property across about 65,000 acres in South Meadow, Big Meadow, Big Stone, New Home and Golden Valley townships.

It will take up to a year to determine whether the area is suitable for a wind farm, although its proximity to an existing facility provides a measure of reassurance.

“We know that the wind blows here, it’s really to justify that knowledge,” Barton said.

If the company decides to move forward, the application will be subject to a number of permitting processes and at least one public hearing.