(Glenwood) – Mills County officials are reacting to a proposed two-county wind project through MidAmerican Energy.
During its regular meeting Tuesday morning, the Mills County Board of Supervisors received an update from Building and Zoning Technician Holly Jackson, who has communicated with MidAmerican representatives. With the current proposed project map, the wind farm would cover land between and south of Silver City and Henderson in Mills County, all the way north of Treynor in Pottawattamie County. One notable impact, Jackson says, would be the required adjustment in the current Mills County wind tower ordinance.
“The average height is 280 on the low end and 350 on the high end for the towers,” Jackson explained. “So we would need to put something in to allow for 300 feet of height and then the Planning and Zoning Board will have to consider and variances if they need to.”
Currently, the maximum height for the county is set at 80 feet in agricultural and agricultural/residential districts, which makes up all of the project in Mills County. Jackson adds around 200 residents in Mills County received an informational letter from the energy company, while 400 residents received a letter in Pottawattamie County.
Supervisors Richard Crouch says the board learned of the wind project at the same time as landowners, as a meeting with MidAmerican in August had no mention of a wind farm.
“I mean Holly (Jackson) and I had met with MidAmerican back in August and heard from a couple of people,” Crouch said. “And basically all they talked to her and I about was solar. And you know they’re still looking for a solar field around here of up to about 3,500 acres.”
Wind farm proposals have been made in Mills County for nearly a decade with a previous proposal including eastern portions of the county, as Jackson says Iowa falls behind only Texas in wind generation.
Jackson says there are several financial incentives for landowners to sign a lease agreement, plus an agreement is also required for neighboring landowners whose property falls within a half-mile of a proposed turbine. However, details are still fuzzy if neighbors don’t sign an agreement.
“I like that they want to work with the neighbors, and that the neighbors would have to sign an agreement in which they would receive a $9,000 payment,” Jackson said. “But, she said if the neighbors don’t agree she said ‘we will exhaust all options first,’ so she didn’t go into details if the neighbor doesn’t agree what the process is after that.”
While the total number of wind turbines is unknown, Jackson says most of the projects include one or two turbines per parcel of land. Given MidAmerican has made it clear they would like to have voluntary agreements with landowners, Jackson advised it would be wise for the board to discuss where they don’t want the farm given the potential damages to county roads and land.
“This is the area that they’re looking at now, but Richard when they met with us last summer they mentioned the eastern side of the county where they were talking about the Emerson, Henderson, and Hastings area,” Jackson said. “So do we want to sit down and discuss areas where we definitely don’t want it or areas that we do, because I think now would probably be the time to look at that.”
Given the preliminary stage of the project, Jackson says more details should become available after Mid-American presents to the Mills County Planning and Zoning Board at its monthly meeting on February 1st.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding