Curtailment action could come down to word definition

Definition of “reasonable” key to county’s ability to assess wind turbine fines

CLINTON — The definition of the word “reasonable” was at the center of discussions Tuesday among members of the county board’s land use committee, specifically, how it related to wind turbine curtailment.

The committee was looking for how the county could apply penalties to the Alta Farms II wind energy facility if it failed to curtail its wind turbines during a severe weather warning.  Curtailment is the practice of slowing, altering or stopping the rotation of wind turbines during severe weather alerts, such as tornado warnings.  This is based on the premise that the rotating blades interfere with the ability of Doppler radar installations to identify certain weather cells or tornado activity.

The county ordinance assesses a $5,000 fine for failure to curtail turbines during weather warnings.  It specifies the action must take place within a “reasonable” length of time.  Land use committee member Joe Witte posed the question concerning what constitutes “reasonable,” and whether county and Alta Farms II officials would agree on its definition in terms of real time.

“The language is not going to change,” Witte said in reference to the ordinance condition setting the curtailment requirement.  “What is “reasonable” as far as they would curtail within a reasonable timeframe?”

• See the complete story in the Friday, Feb. 17 print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.