PRINCETON – Bureau County Board on Tuesday reconsidered last month’s vote that prevented Big Sky Wind from using the tilt/fell method for decommissioning wind turbines approved in 2006.
The board had voted down an addendum to the project’s decommissioning and restoration plan last month, which would have allowed BSW DevCo LLC (the company that owns Big Sky Wind) to use tilt/fell method over the crane method during the current repowering project. Big Sky is in the process of updating its turbines for more efficient models.
Big Sky’s owners say the crane method for taking down turbines is outdated and no longer the industry standard.
The idea of the tilt-fell method, which essentially involves a controlled drop of the turbine before the blades are cut off and hauled away, is concerning to many of the residents who live near the wind project.
Two residents spoke about their concerns last month, and it was revealed the zoning board of appeals and zoning committees voted to not recommend the tilt/fell method to the county board. These factors most likely swayed votes against the new method.
This month, the county board revoted on the issue and decided to leave it up to the landowners of the wind turbines. They will have the right to sign off on whether they want their turbines removed by crane or by the tilt/fell method.
This is a decision that still concerns residents who live near the wind project. On Tuesday, they questioned why they did not have a say in how the turbines were removed when they live closer to the turbines than many of the landowners themselves.
The concerned residents spoke about testimony given by a Mendota resident who had experienced tilt/fell method near his home. They said he had explained how he felt the vibration of the turbine when it hit the ground and how it had shook the windows in his home.
The kicker is that the turbine that came down near his home was smaller and not as heavy as the turbines that Big Sky wants to put up during the repowering project.
The residents also said they had talked with their home insurance companies who all said they would not be liable for any damages done to their properties if any was made when the turbines came down by tilt/fell method.
A gas line that runs through the northern part of the county is also a concern to the residents who are worried the tilt/fell method could fracture the line.
The residents questioned who would be responsible for damages made during this process, and why the wind turbines company would not address this issue with homeowners.
Bureau County State’s Attorney Geno Caffarini reminded board members that anybody can be sued for anything, and that if damages were done to homes during the tilt/fell method, that the wind company could be responsible for negligence.