A wind turbine company that had been exploring expanding into Wayne County is reportedly evaluating its options, following a vote by county commissioners this week that is expected to result in extreme difficulty for that or any company to locate wind power generators on area land.
Steve Higinbotham, who heads the county’s planning and zoning commission, said representatives of EDP Renewables have told him they were uncertain whether they would proceed in attempting to bring industrial wind turbines to the area. The commissioners’ vote Wednesday will now require the company – or anyone who wishes to install a wind energy conversion system in Wayne County – to seek a zoning variance from the county.
“They (said they) are going to have to reconsider … they’re going to think about the situation,” Higinbotham told The Palladium-Item. “They haven’t said they are (fully) removing themselves from Wayne County, however.”
EDP first publicly acknowledged its interest in the county as a wind farm location in October, when it held a meeting for area residents who wanted to learn more about the project. Following that meeting, there has been intense public pushback, spearheaded by local business leaders, who were opposed to the turbines – which could reach 600 feet in height – being located in the county.
The project, which would have been an expansion of a similar project in Randolph County, would have brought up to 100 turbines into Wayne County.
The pushback ultimately led to a public hearing at the advisory plan commission Monday during which more than 20 people spoke out against the turbines. The commission recommended at the conclusion of the meeting that the commissioners accept a new, potentially temporary, ordinance that will require variances be approved by the board of zoning appeals for future turbine projects.
“(EDP) conveyed concerns about the (ordinance) change,” he said. “Their fears were that once an ordinance is changed, it’s hard to get it changed back.”
Commissioner Mary Anne Butters said Thursday she and her colleagues aren’t in any hurry to change the ordinance again, though they will continue reviewing documentation related to the potential risks and benefits of wind energy in the area moving forward.
“I don’t think we need any more public hearings,” Butters said. “I think the people have spoken … it’s a settled issue.”
Multiple calls to EDP project manager Jeffrey Nemeth, who spoke on behalf of the company during Monday’s hearing, were not returned Thursday or Friday.
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