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Deal reached for turbine-damaged roads

Construction on the Hog Creek Wind Farm project has led to several roads being damaged in the northern part of the county. I sat down with Deputy County Engineer Luke Underwood and Assistant County Engineer Trent Bass to get the details and timeline on the repairs.

Underwood said that in the planning phases of the project, the County Engineer’s Office was mainly concerned with the local infrastructure in the form of roads and bridges. He noted that the Power Sighting Board has to give wind farm approval through a road use maintenance agreement. This document outlines who is responsible for the road damages.

Part of the agreement forced RES America, the developer of the wind farm, to test roadways in the northern portion of the county where the Hog Creek Wind Farm is located to better understand what abuse the roadways could withstand. Underwood notes that the study was effective on some roadways, however some roads didn’t hold up to the heavy construction traffic.

The agreement obligated the developer to bring the condition of the roadways back to their state before the wind farm’s construction began.

Underwood said that when the process began, “we were kind of both ends of the spectrum, we were one end, they were the other.”

Within the last month, the developer and the engineers office have come to a verbal agreement, and are working toward putting that to paper.

“They’ve agreed just to give the county a cash settlement, and we would be in charge of making the repairs.” Said Underwood.

He mentioned that the repairs would be both in-house, and contracted. Underwood said that because of the time it took to reach this agreement, the repairs would not be made until the Spring of 2018, making the roads un-plowable. Washington Township and the Engineers Office will be closing Washington Township 85, and portions of 22, and 115 within the next few weeks.

Underwood said that his office was working as hard as they could to complete the road repairs and improvements before the winter season, however some immediate action would be taken to make the roads safe for the winter.

“There were some spots that needed patched and some berms that needed touched up and we’re getting that stuff all wrapped up so they at least aren’t a hazard during the winter months.” Underwood Explained.

There are two more wind farms coming to Hardin County and Underwood said they are both completing studies to assess roadways. The “Hardin Wind” project through the renewable energy company Invenergy is aggressively progressing to begin work in February of 2018, however still has work with the engineer’s office that must be completed before they can begin construction.

We did reach out to a representative of RES America, however, they did not provide comments on the situation.