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Company would pay for wind farm road damage

When wind turbines begin to fill the skyline of northeastern Columbia County, We Energies will pay to fix any damage to Columbia County roads that the construction might cause. ...Gravel roads would be built on the leased farmland where the Glacier Hills turbines would be built. Construction crews would use town and county roads (mostly concrete or asphalt) to haul their equipment to and from the site.

When wind turbines begin to fill the skyline of northeastern Columbia County, We Energies will pay to fix any damage to Columbia County roads that the construction might cause.

The County Board's highway committee didn't have a chance Thursday morning to read through the ream of paperwork that Andrew Hesselbach, wind farm project manager for We Energies, brought to the meeting, so the committee did not ratify any specifics of the company's agreement.

Basically, Hesselbach said, the agreement - similar to one in the works with officials of the Columbia County towns of Scott and Randolph - calls for We Energies to hire an engineering firm that would videotape the roads in the vicinity of the construction to document their condition before the wind farm is built, then document any damage sustained during construction and determine the approximate cost to repair it.

Highway Commissioner Kurt Dey said state law requires We Energies to make repairs, or pay for repairs, on roads damaged by their construction.

"It's just an agreement that they're going to fix what they break," Dey said.

Construction could start by the end of April or early May on the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

When wind turbines begin to fill the skyline of northeastern Columbia County, We Energies will pay to fix any damage to Columbia County roads that the construction might cause.

The County Board's highway committee didn't have a chance Thursday morning to read through the ream of paperwork that Andrew Hesselbach, wind farm project manager for We Energies, brought to the meeting, so the committee did not ratify any specifics of the company's agreement.

Basically, Hesselbach said, the agreement - similar to one in the works with officials of the Columbia County towns of Scott and Randolph - calls for We Energies to hire an engineering firm that would videotape the roads in the vicinity of the construction to document their condition before the wind farm is built, then document any damage sustained during construction and determine the approximate cost to repair it.

Highway Commissioner Kurt Dey said state law requires We Energies to make repairs, or pay for repairs, on roads damaged by their construction.

"It's just an agreement that they're going to fix what they break," Dey said.

Construction could start by the end of April or early May on the foundation and road system to serve Glacier Hills Energy Park, a complex of 80 to 90 electricity-generating turbines, producing up to 207 megawatts of electricity, in a 17,300-acre area in the towns of Randolph and Scott. Glacier Hills could become the largest wind farm in Wisconsin; the only wind farm that could rival it would be another We Energies operation, the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in northeast Fond du Lac County, with 88 turbines that produce 145 megawatts.

Gravel roads would be built on the leased farmland where the Glacier Hills turbines would be built. Construction crews would use town and county roads (mostly concrete or asphalt) to haul their equipment to and from the site.

When wind farms are built, Hesselbach said, the biggest hazard to rural roads isn't the hauling of the turbine components but the sheer weight of the construction vehicles, he said.

"(Turbine components) are heavy," he said, "but they're hauled in on so many axles that it disperses the weight. It's typically the gravel and the dump trucks that cause the damage."

Although the foundation and roadwork will start this spring and continue well into the fall, Hesselbach said the turbines won't go in until the spring to 2011.

And it won't take long for dominated the area's skyline.

"Once you have the roads and foundation in," Hesselbach said, "you can get a turbine standing up in a day." It takes longer than that, he added, to equip each turbine with mechanisms needed to generate electricity.

The turbines would be about 270 feet tall from the ground to the center point of the three-blade fan, and about 410 feet from the ground to the highest blade tip, Hesselbach said.

But, asked highway committee chairman Andy Ross, in the event of construction-related damage to county roads, how would the county and We Energies determine what damage is traceable to the construction and how much it might cost to fix it?

Hesselbach said the engineering firm that We Energies will hire - and county and town officials will have the opportunity to concur that the firm is competent - will make the determination based on typical costs for repairs in the area where the damage occurred. In most cases, he said, the county would do the actual repairs or hire someone to do them, but We Energies would reimburse the county for the cost.

Committee member Vern Gove said he had another concern related to the wind farm construction: security.

What, he asked, does We Energies plan to do to secure the entrances to and from the turbine construction sites, and ensure that people don't use the construction area as a place to hold surreptitious late-night parties?

Hesselbach said a security patrol will cruise the construction area overnight after work has stopped for the day to ensure that the sites are not disturbed. Even more common than parties, he said, is the incidence of theft of materials from the sites, so it's in the utility's interest to keep an eye on the sites at night.


Source: http://www.wiscnews.com/por...

APR 1 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/25477-company-would-pay-for-wind-farm-road-damage
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