MADISON – As expected, the Madison County board of commissioners approved a request for a second wind company to begin collecting wind speeds and related weather data.
On Tuesday following a public hearing, the county board of commissioners approved a conditional-use permit for Emerick Wind to construct a “met tower” to collect the data to see if southwestern Madison County might be suitable for a wind farm.
Last month, the joint planning commission voted 7-0 to approve the conditional-use permit application. There was no opposition expressed at that meeting nor on Tuesday.
The site of the temporary wind tower is on land about 8 miles south and 1.5 miles west of Meadow Grove.
Heather McWhorter, the county’s zoning administrator, said the tower would be located about 240 feet south of 834th Road. It will be more than one-half mile from any occupied residence.
The land is zoned ag intensive and the tower is expected to be 197 feet tall. It will not be required to have lights, according to FAA guidelines.
Charlie Smith of Lincoln Clean Energy spoke in favor of the permit. Smith said his company is developing the project for Emerick Wind.
“We’re just starting to assess the area for potential wind development,” Smith said, “and one of the first things we wanted to do was get a meteorological tower and start measuring wind speeds.”
Smith said multiple years of data would be needed to determine if the area is suitable.
Smith said his company has headquarters in Chicago and is in the late stages of development for a wind farm in Wayne County. That farm is expected to go into construction in 2019 and will feature about 80 towers.
The met tower southwest of Meadow Grove will not have any blades, Smith said. It will have instruments that measure wind speed, direction and temperatures.
It also will be solar-powered and supported by guy wires, he said.
Earlier this fall, Invenergy Wind Development of Denver obtained permits for two met towers in the same general area from the county board of commissioners.
In both companies’ cases, it is anticipated that wind data will be collected for at least a couple of years before a decision is made on whether to move forward with a proposal. In addition, the company would need to find a purchaser of the power that would be generated.
If that occurs, the companies then would be expected to seek a conditional-use permit to operate a wind farm, locating towers on property sites where they have purchased land lease agreements.
Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the met tower permit.
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