TUSCOLA – Construction has already begun for the new Harvest Ridge Wind Farm in Douglas County, but that hasn’t stopped an area village and more than 50 individuals from filing a pair of lawsuits against the project.
Longview Village President Susette M. Tatman said the village board voted about a week ago to direct attorney Cherie Kesler to file suit against EDP Renewables North America, Broadlands Wind Farm LLC, Douglas County, the Douglas County Board and individual board members.
A separate suit has been filed in Douglas County Court by more than 50 individuals against the same defendants.
“The village of Longview is filing suit based on the placement of wind turbines within the 1½-mile jurisdiction of the community,” Kesler said on Wednesday afternoon.
Reportedly as many as seven of the wind farm’s 48 planned turbines are within 1½ miles of the village limits.
Tatman said the village board decided to go to court after being approached by officials from Newman and Murdock townships, which have been opposed to the project.
“The village board is concerned about our water because there is going to be a wind turbine three-quarters of a mile away from our water facility,” Tatman said. “They are worried about the vibrations and digging and things like that.”
Douglas County Board Chairman Don Munson said it is too early to comment on the two suits.
“We haven’t had time to discuss anything,” Munson said on Wednesday. “Until we get advice from our state’s attorney, Kate Watson, it is only prudent that I say nothing at this time.”
Ryan Brown, executive vice president with EDP Renewables, said Douglas County spent eight months reviewing the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm permit application and providing thorough feedback to ensure that the project met the building permit requirements.
“We’ve seen a lot of support for the project from the community and are disappointed that there are some folks still trying to block the project from moving forward,” Brown told News-Gazette Media. “What is certain is that the county’s longstanding permitting process was comprehensive and came to the correct result. There is no doubt that the project met all the necessary criteria to secure the right to build, and we are confident that the Douglas County Court will come to a similar conclusion.”
Brown confirmed that construction began earlier this month, with the Appleton, Wis.-based Boldt Co. serving as the general contractor.
Brown said EDP Renewables will continue to focus on building the wind farm while the two suits work their way through the court system.
“We are confident that we will be producing clean energy from Douglas County’s wind energy resource by the end of the year,” Brown said.
While electricity will begin flowing by December, work on the wind farm will continue throughout 2020.
Brown said EDP Renewables officials are currently reviewing the complaint from the village of Longview.
“We’ve been meeting with the village officials for months and were having very positive conversations about the benefits that the taxes from the wind farm will bring to their school and fire department,” Brown said. “So, this sharp turn of events – after we’ve received the needed permits to build the project – is extremely disappointing.”
Harvest Ridge Project Manager Amy Kurt said the construction of Harvest Ridge will employ about 250 people. When the wind farm is completed, it will employ eight to 10 people to operate and maintain the site and equipment.
EDP Renewables has lined up wind-energy agreements to sell 50 megawatts produced by Harvest Ridge to Walmart each year for the next 15 years, 100 megawatts a year to the Wabash Valley Power Association for 20 years and 50 megawatts a year to an unidentified private purchaser for an undisclosed number of years.
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