Tradewind Energy has now received the go-ahead to develop two projects to take advantage of the wind that blows throughout Poweshiek County for clean energy.
Approximately 200 people attended the Poweshiek County Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting held at the Michael J. Manatt Community Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday, June 6, as the board members voted unanimously to approve both the English Farms Wind Project – 78 proposed wind turbines – and the North English Wind Project – 182 proposed turbine sites.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout and the support of the community,” said Jeff Hammond, Development Manager with Tradewind Energy. “We can now start developing the project.”
Trevor White, chairman, Poweshiek County Supervisors, agreed.
“I have a lot of respect for both the board members and J.D. Griffith, Poweshiek County Sanitarian and Zoning,” he said. “They ran a very good meeting and kept it very organized.”
Hammond told the members of the board, and the crowd in attendance, that the projects both meet all requirements of the Poweshiek County Zoning Ordinance, including the acoustical section.
According to Hammond, they expect to start developing the North English project this fall. Approximately nine months after that, the English Farms project is expected to begin.
It’s estimated that Poweshiek County will see about a $750 million investment in infrastructure from both projects, Hammond said.
“On a wind project, property tax dollars stay in Poweshiek County,” said Poweshiek County Supervisor Larry White. “Everybody that is supported by property taxes (in Poweshiek County) will benefit from the projects.”
According to Wilson that includes townships, schools, the community college and the county.
While most at the meeting seemed to be in support of the projects, there were a good number who seemed to have issues with the plans.
“I’m very concerned about our county roads,” said Craig Johnstone, Malcom Township. “I don’t see that money going to the secondary roads.”
According to Hammond, Tradewind Energy expects to actually upgrade a number of the county roads in the area, including adding new culverts.
He added that after the wind turbines were built in O’Brien and Ida counties, the road commissioners in those counties said that their roads were actually in better shape than before the projects were started.
Other concerns included the number of birds killed by wind turbines.
To address those concerns Hammond pointed out that Tradewind Energy had completed a number of required and environmental site analysis, including a
►Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat Assessment
►Field Avian and Eagles Surveys
►Raptor and Eagle Nest Surveys
►Bat Acoustic Surveys
►Wetland Field Surveys, and
►Cultural Resource Surveys.
In fact, Hammond said, the North English Wind Project near Malcom had to relocate or lose nine wind turbine sites because of a bald eagle nest near U.S. Highway 63 on 430th Ave. They eventually had to lose seven wind turbines.
“The wind turbines can be no closer than one mile of a nest,” he said.
Overall, Hammond said, while Iowa leads the nation with 36.6 percent annual electricity sourced from wind power, the economic benefit to the counties with wind turbines is substantial without straining local resources, include economic benefits and the creation of jobs – both short term while constructing the turbines to long-term positions operating the projects.
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