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Hearing to tackle wind transmission line; Rush County case could have local impact

RUSHVILLE – Things might be picking up regarding a proposed wind farm project in the area.

West Fork Wind LLC, also known as NextEra Energy Resources, has petitioned the Rush County Area Plan Commission for a special exception and variance regarding an electrical transmission line, as part of its proposed West Fork Wind Energy Center project in Fayette, Rush and Henry counties.

A public hearing on the matter has been set by the Rush County APC for 6 P.M. Tuesday, Nov. 14 in the Rush County Courthouse Assembly Room. The hearing is open to the public.

The company’s petition for a special exception and variance is for “a private utility consisting of an electrical transmission line, including power poles likely at 90-110 feet, maximum 130 feet, extending east to west from Fayette County line, on less than 40 acres including associated switchyard.”

The proposed transmission line would run from approximately 430 North to approximately 700 East, in Rush County’s Union Township, and would be for use in the proposed three-county wind farm project which is slated to see the bulk of wind turbines – more than 40 – constructed in Fayette County.

The petition, and hearing, are taking place while West Fork Wind LLC still finds itself embroiled in a civil suit with another Rush County government zoning entity, the Rush County Board of Zoning Appeals, as it challenges the BZA’s December 2016 decision regarding West Fork’s special exception permits for the Rush County portion of the project.

In that case, NextEra had been seeking a special exception for the construction of 22 turbines for the West Fork Wind Energy Center project there, with a height of roughly 500 feet, and a setback distance from non-participating property owners of 1,500 feet. The Rush County BZA denied the special exception application, however, and added their own requirements for setback distance and turbine height for future special exception applications NextEra might submit.

Those requirements stipulate that any wind turbines constructed in Rush County by NextEra, for the West Fork Wind Energy Center, must adhere to a 2,640-foot setback from non-participating landowners and that the turbines are 200 feet or less in height. That prompted NextEra to challenge the legitimacy of the decision in court.

The latest development in that ongoing case – presided over by Special Judge Clay Kellerman of Franklin County – was a joint motion filed Tuesday in Rush Superior Court, by both West Fork Wind LLC and the Rush County BZA, requesting the court approve an extension of time to file record in the case.