ITHACA, MI – Gratiot County is getting another wind farm but county commissioners have concerns over a bond that would ensure the wind turbines would be dismantled in the future.
The Gratiot County Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday, March 5 to get clarification on where to store a more than $10 million bond and agreement that were approved last week allowing Polaris Wind Energy LLC to start building 76 wind turbines in the area of Lafayette Township, Hamilton Township and North Star Township.
The approval of where to store the bond was the last step before the company could start to begin construction on the wind turbine farm later this month.
According to the agreement, Polaris will satisfy all decommissioning obligations contained in the permit, the site plan approval, the decommissioning plan, the ordinance and the decommissioning agreement.
Some of those obligations are that it must remove the wind turbines and meteorological towers, substations and restore the ground to what it was like before the installation of the wind turbines.
At last week’s meeting, Commissioner Chuck Murphy was the only one to vote no on moving forward because they had not decided on where to place the bond to make sure it was secured.
“This is a surety bond that is a piece of paper that is worth $10 million,” he said. “When the windmills are no more useful or abandoned, this would assure that it is taken down.”
He added that he didn’t want to rush through something without making sure they know exactly where it is going.
Commissioner Jan Bunting also agreed with Murphy and originally voted no with him at an earlier meeting where the vote was a stalemate at 2-2. She reversed her decision but only to make sure at the next meeting the commission decides where to put the document.
“I’m accepting it because those people in those townships need to be able to take those wind turbines down,” she said. “He (Murphy) felt the same way that I did in assuming why would you OK a contract when you don’t know where it’s going to be?”
Bunting added that she is trying to make sure that the farmers in the area aren’t left with abandoned wind turbines. If the surety bond is lost, then the contract is invalid for the next 20 years that the wind turbines will operate, she said.
“If you went home and won $10 million, would you stick it in a drawer?” she said. “If you lose that ticket you lose $10 million.
”The next meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5 at the Commissioners Room at the Gratiot County Courthouse in Ithaca.
Currently there are 188 wind turbines in the county.
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