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Wind farm applications halted until review

The Morgan County Commission Board will not accept permit applications for any proposed wind farm projects until after the board has reviewed and potentially updated the county’s wind ordinance.

Two companies – E.ON and Apex Clean Energy – are proposing wind farm projects in the eastern portion of the county near Waverly, Franklin and Alexander.

While the companies continue to work with land owners, project applications will not be accepted while the board addresses the ordinance, board Chairman Brad Zeller said.

The board has been asked several time to approve a moratorium stalling the projects pending evaluation of the ordinance, but Zeller said he did not want to put a deadline on the ordinance review.

“A moratorium places a deadline of six months or a year,” he said. “We’ve stated that our major concern is to get the ordinance amended. We assured them that we are not accepting applications.”

In addition to addressing possible changes to the current requirements, the board also will clarify some language regarding the group that oversees the projects, Zeller said.

“The planning commission and the regional planning commission are two separate groups,” he said. “One of the issues we need to address is clarifying that language.”

There is no timeline for the ordinance’s review and revision, Zeller said.

The Regional Planning Commission, which reconvened last month, is addressing the qualifications of board members before moving on to address the ordinance or the wind farm projects.

Both E.ON and Apex are proposing building turbines in the eastern portion of the county to supply energy to Ameren’s lines.

E.ON is proposing a 200-megawatt project, which could mean between 44 and 91 wind turbines in the project area, depending on the size of the turbines.

Apex is proposing adding 300 megawatts to the lines, which would include between 83 and 120 turbines.

Both companies are working with land owners and performing environmental impact and other studies before moving forward with permit applications.

If the projects are approved, both companies have said they plan to have the turbines installed and operational by 2020.

“Right now, we don’t want to put a deadline on having this completed,” Zeller said.