CLINTON — Items related to the recently-approved Alta Farms II wind project permit passed the county board on August 19 during a special meeting. One item did not pass after tense debate among opposing board members.
The board approved signage for the project facility along with a plan for logging and investigating complaints associated with the wind energy operation. The board also approved a decommissioning agreement with Tradewind Energy for its Alta Farms II wind energy project, which will involve approximately 56 wind turbines in the northwest portion of DeWitt County.
During discussion of the logging and investigation plan for complaints, board member Melonie Tilley asked at what point would the plan to handle complaints begin.
“Any complaints received during construction and all the way through the operation of the project,” said Tom Swierczewski, Tradewind project manager. “At an absolute minimum, the county board would be apprised of complaints in the annual reporting requirements.”
Debate occurred over the decommissioning plan, with which several board members have expressed a longstanding disagreement, citing what they say is an incomplete and unspecific plan.
“It’s obvious there’s no numbers attached with this,” board member Terry Ferguson said about the submitted decommissioning agreement.
“As is written, there is also no obligation to accept the numbers from the engineering company. Is that true?”
“The agreement follows the ordinance, and the ordinance provides that the county will mutually agree upon an engineer for the cost of decommissioning,” responded Melissa Vancrum, an attorney representing Tradewind Energy. “That is what is used to post security.”
Vancrum said the cost of decommissioning determined by the mutually-agreed-upon engineer is a decommissioning that is “put up for security.”
Melonie Tilley joined Ferguson in asking for an engineer to represent the county to examine the costs once submitted.
“I’m not saying that this company is not worthy of what they are proposing,” Tilley said. “I’m only saying, we haven’t heard from them. They’re not working for us, they’re working for Tradewind. They should be working for us.”