Conflicting points of view regarding the placement of new wind turbines were exchanged during the last County Board meeting on Nov. 7.
On one hand, Faribault County residents such as Johanna Hocker are staunchly opposed to the Oza Tanka Wind Project. Hocker voiced her concerns during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“I just want to state the fact that I am 100 percent totally against the wind turbine program. There are a number of my neighbors that are in agreement with me even though they are not here,” Hocker said.
Meanwhile, land acquisition specialist Jacob Salisbury, and development director PJ Saliterman were in attendance on behalf of EDF Renewable Energy.
With the project set to begin by the spring of 2020, EDF plans to install 80 to 100 wind turbines within 18,000 to 20,000 acres in Barber Township.
Saliterman expressed interest in gaining additional feedback from community members in an effort to more closely meet the needs of residents in the surrounding areas.
“We understand that wind turbines would be a big change on the landscape and not everyone is excited about that,” Saliterman said. “But we also understand that a wind project represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for family farms to secure their future.”
As Saliterman explained, wind energy opponents have requested to set wind turbines boundaries at 1,500 feet from non-participating residents. However, Saliterman stated the setting of such boundaries would require the placement of turbines further out into agricultural fields.
As a compromise, EDF plans to place wind turbine boundaries at least 1,400 feet from non-participating residents.
According to Saliterman, EDF is making its “best efforts” to work with landowners to honor the original request of 1,500 foot buffers.
The topic of aerial spray in wind turbine areas was also addressed by Saliterman during the meeting. EDF plans to curtail the use of turbines during the spraying of fields.
As part of this plan, wind farmers wanting to spray a particular parcel of land would need to provide 24 hour notice to a remote technician. Once this occurs, the aerial sprayer and remote technician would coordinate their efforts so the wind turbine would shut down and not interfere with the spraying procedure.
“We understand that turbines will change the way that fields will be treated. First and foremost, we want to make sure that this continues to happen safely.
“Aerial sprayers may charge a premium, so we are looking into the possibility of reimbursing landowners up to a reasonable amount,” Saliterman continued.
Other items from the meeting included:
In a roll call vote, the board authorized a motion to request additional state funds for upcoming county state aid street projects.
Previously requesting $400,000 in state aid funding, the board has increased the request to $650,000 under the new 2018 advance funding resolution. While District 2 commissioner Greg Young voted against the motion, public works director and county engineer Mark Daly cited additional project flexibility as the reasoning for the request.
Daly also updated the board on several construction projects. While Bridge 3130 was opened last week, all work on County State Aid Highway 4 Box Culvert has been completed. As for CSAH 32 in Wells, that project has been delayed until 2018.
A motion was passed by the board to authorize the Central Services Business administrator to increase the limitation of the Cafeteria Plan from $2,600 to $2,650 in 2018. The reimbursement plan allows employees to contribute a certain amount of money to a designated account before taxes are calculated.
A cell phone stipend for new county staff engineer William Goo was approved by the board.
The board approved the purchase of a trailer from Yeager Implement in the amount of $11,200. The county commissioners also authorized the low bid purchase of spraying equipment for the trailer.
These purchases will be part of the Aquatic Invasive Species Project. Grant funds from the Department of Natural Resources will be used for both purchases.
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