How long it should take to curtail wind turbines at the core of county’s enforcement policies

Gordon Woods / Journal — The Alta Farms II wind energy project northwest of Clinton.

County receives advice from state’s attorney

CLINTON — DeWitt County State’s Attorney Dan Markwell on Monday advised members of the county board’s land use committee not to modify language in the county wind ordinance.

Committee members were looking for a more exacting description about when and how long it would take for operators of the Alta Farms II wind energy facility to curtail its wind turbines.  “Curtailment” is the practice of slowing or stopping wind turbines during major storm events to prevent its possible interference with Dopplar weather radar.

Committee members, such as Joe Witte, were concerned about what they felt was the vagueness of the time frame given by wind company representatives about how long it would take operators to curtail turbines in case of a tornado or other severe weather warning.

If the county were to level a fine against the company, the company would then have to provide documentation showing operators did curtail turbines in a timely manner following the issuance of a weather warning, Markwell said.

The interpretation of what is considered timely could come up if the issue were ever challenged in court.  Markwell said, once the company conducts a curtailment test, there should be a better idea of exactly how long the process takes.

“Whatever kind of checklist or policies you might have for the zoning administrator, that’s not binding on the wind farm,” Markwell said.  “I suggest not really having anything, because if it would go to court, we don’t want them subpoenaing our procedures and making it about ‘Well maybe they didn’t follow their own policies and procedures’.”

• Read the complete story in the Friday, Mar. 17 print edition of the Clinton Journal or Wednesday in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.