TUSCOLA – With two township lawsuits now settled, EDP Renewables is just days away from possibly getting the final permit necessary to begin construction on the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm in Douglas County.
On Thursday, the Douglas County Board will hold a public hearing – as required by its wind-farm ordinance – to gather public comments regarding EDP’s application for a 48-turbine, 200-megawatt wind farm that will stretch across mostly farmland in Murdock and Newman townships.
That plan was formally presented to board members on Wednesday. The public-input hearing begins at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Tuscola Community Building, 122 W. N. Central Ave., Tuscola.
The county board’s wind-energy committee will meet at 9 a.m. Monday in the same place to vote on whether to recommend that the county issue a building permit to EDP. The full county board will then vote on issuing the permit at 11 a.m. Monday.
Murdock and Newman townships both created their own wind-farm ordinances that would have been more strict than the county’s – for example, requiring larger distances between the turbines and neighboring properties. That prompted EDP to file lawsuits arguing that the county ordinance superseded the township rules. Earlier this year, state legislators passed a bill stipulating that only county governments can enact zoning regulations for wind farms in unincorporated parts of a county, which took effect immediately upon being signed into law.
As a result, the townships and EDP settled the lawsuits, and now EDP is moving quickly through its permit-review process with the Douglas County Board.
Amy Kurt, project manager with EDP, said if the county board votes Monday to issue the building permit, her company would begin the first part of construction – upgrading roads within the wind farm’s footprint – in early June.
“So within a week of getting our permit, we will be out there upgrading those roads to get ready for our construction traffic,” Kurt said, adding that construction of the turbines would begin in the fall with the hope that the wind farm will be operational by the end of the year. “We hope to be delivering electrons to the grid by the end of the year.”
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