OHIO – If representatives from Big Sky Wind were looking for a reaction to their planned repowering of wind turbines, they didn’t get it from the crowd during their first open house.
Over 50 people attended an open house at Ohio Grade School to hear about upgrades to the wind farm, but aside from about a dozen questions during the Q&A portion of the evening, attendees kept their cards close to their vests.
The owners of wind turbines within the development in northern Bureau and southern Lee counties will repower 97 of the existing units and decommission and remove 17 turbines.
There are 56 located in Bureau County. Though the existing turbines are rated to last 20-25 years, Big Sky says technology has advanced more rapidly than anticipated and new federal tax incentives make now a good time to move on the project.
Reactions ranged from taciturn to cagey when the NewsTribune surveyed the crowd to see what brought them out. Most attendees declined to comment – even going as far to say they didn’t want it to be known they attended. One couple declined to provide their names for a photo for fear Big Sky would appropriate the picture and use it for promotional purposes.
Ohio School IT worker Quentin Christensen was willing to say he was there on a fact-finding mission, having a “vested interest” in the school’s tax base from the wind farm. School principal Jason Wilt declined to comment on the amount of revenue received from the wind farm, saying he was at the meeting purely to oversee.
James Schultz, the only attendee the NewsTribune spoke to who was willing to go on record, said he and his brother have three turbines on their land. A road to one of them will be removed and it will be decommissioned so he wanted to see how Big Sky planned to remediate their land.
“They just put them in about 2011,” Schultz said. “I’m shocked as to how they became obsolete in eight years.”
So what do residents think? The Q&A session gave some insight into their thoughts. Here’s a recap:
How will construction damage be mitigated?
Crane paths and drain tiles will be clearly marked and there will be no trenching. Any damage caused will be repaired by the construction company. Residents will give final approval of repairs before the project is complete.
What is the logic behind which turbines are decommissioned?
Over the past six months, both county’s ordinances were studied to see which turbines can be repowered. For example, Bureau County ordinances have changed how close turbines can be to roads and homes. There has been a study on how the existing turbines affect wildlife. And, they have determined which turbines are part of each collector system in order to keep balanced power generation.
What assurances are there that farmland won’t be damaged?
The lease has provisions for repairs to land, drainage tiles and crops. Additionally, there is an agreement with the state to repair and maintain land.
With bigger turbines, who is responsible for ice throws?
Controls are in place to prevent ice throws – the units are equipped with technology that is designed to shut them down in certain types of inclement weather. If something were to happen, the project is insured.
Will gravel roads be treated for excess dust during construction? Will there be Children At Play signs put up?
Usually a water truck is used to cut down on dust, and speed limits will be monitored to keep it to a minimum. Signs can be put up with coordination from each county.
Who benefits from the project?
The community will benefit from a fund created by the project owners. There will be a property tax-based increase from the state for higher taxable values and during construction, more traffic for businesses, gas stations etc.
Will larger turbines cause more shadow flickers?
No significant change. The new turbines will be in compliance with what the state allows-individual concerns can be addressed as construction allows.
How will new turbines stand up to extreme weather?
The technology will allow them to withstand hurricane force winds. Measures have been taken to ensure safety, however “We can’t predict the future. We can only plan”.
How will landowners be notified about construction?
By mail and public outreach.
Where will equipment and training for the new equipment come from?
To be determined. It hasn’t been decided yet which manufacturer will be used. It could be U.S. based or international (Europe).
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding