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Motion for more wind studies dies on table

An escrow account of $75,000 sits in the bank, a financial requirement under Henry County’s revised wind turbine ordinance to cover costs related to a proposed wind farm.

Commissioner Ed Tarantino wants to see that escrow money put to use.

Much to the chagrin of some at Wednesday’s Commissioners meeting, however, Tarantino’s motion to use that money and hire independent firms for more study on the impact wind turbines could have died for lack of a second.

“Our county code permits us to use the escrow account provided by Calpine to ask for additional studies to be conducted,” Tarantino said. “These studies include but are not limited to economic impact, environmental impact, health and safety impact, home value and real estate value impact.”

The $75,000 was deposited earlier this year by Big Blue River Wind Farm LLC, owned by Calpine Energy, the last company of three still actively pursuing construction of the so-called green energy systems that have had many here seeing red.

The wind farm company’s proposal includes studies similar to the ones Tarantino requested Wednesday. However, the newest Henry County Commissioner says an independent set of eyes are needed.

“Some of these studies are included in Calpine’s application for commission approved use,” Tarantino continued. “Some are not. The studies included in the application are studies done by companies hired by Calpine. I feel that these studies about health and safety and economic impact would be very valuable coming from an independent outside agencies.

“The public and the planning commission would receive valuable information that is needed to make a sound decision on this crucial application,” Tarantino added. “These studies would not cost the taxpayer one cent. I make a motion that commissioners approve use of escrow funds to hire independent firms to conduct the studies aforementioned.”

Kim Cronk, president of the Commissioners, then said “Discussion from Commissioners? Is there a second?”

The questions were greeted with silence by both Cronk and Commissioner Ed Yanos.

Cronk then declared the motion died for lack of a second. Soon afterward, the meeting adjourned, but not before anti-wind people in the audience – the same people who elected Tarantino in an upset victory over incumbent Butch Baker in 2018 – got in the last word.

“Thank you for not protecting the citizens of Henry County with additional studies,” someone from the audience said. “Thank you Mr. Yanos. Thank you Mr. Cronk.”

Second time studies requested

It was the second time in a week that a request for more wind turbine impact studies was rejected by a Henry County governing body.

County Councilman Kenon Gray, the council’s appointment to the Henry County Planning Commission, presented a similar request to the other planning commission members June 20.

Gray told the other planners he had contacted experts in the economic impact, property value impact and human health & safety impact of the Big Blue River Wind Farm CAU permit request. Gray requested the Planning Commission ask the Henry County Commissioners to use the escrow to pay the people he’d contacted.

The motion failed 6-2, with planning commissioner Dale Cole voting with Gray.

A 5 p.m. public hearing has been scheduled Tuesday, July 23 in Bundy Auditorium regarding the commission approved use permit request by Big Blue River Wind Farm, which wants to erect 38 turbines in and around Harrison Township.