EUREKA — After failing for several months to get the Minonk Wind Farm LLC to cooperate in updating its decommissioning plan, the Woodford County Board has approved a resolution to adopt an updated plan prepared by an independent agency.
Terms included in the special use permit require a plan and financial security from Minonk LLC that would be used for tearing down the wind turbines and other equipment when they are no longer in use.
The permit also states the plan must be reviewed and updated every three years. The last known document considering decommissioning costs is dated in 2009. Without a decommissioning plan and secure funds in place holding the company accountable, the county could be liable for the cost of tearing down the turbines, officials said. The updated report was due in May 2012.
“We’re not six months overdue, we’re four years overdue,” Woodford County Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Spence told the board. “We’ve tried every opportunity to work with them, and they will not do it.”
The delaying tactics started when the county’s conservation, planning and zoning committee asked for the update, and the company sent them a proposal that basically mirrored the one in place. The committee asked the company to clarify how it arrived at the cost estimates submitted, but got no response.
“We had a list of questions we wanted answered and how they arrived at the numbers, and they refused to give us an explanation,” said committee head Doug Huser.
“Had they shown us something explaining the numbers, we probably would have bought into it,” said former committee member Shannon Rocke. “They can have (the security money) all back if they take (the wind farm) down. There should be sufficient enough money in there to tear down all these wind turbines if they have to.”
In an attempt to push the company into action, the committee hired an independent firm, Patrick Engineering, in November 2015 to do a cost study and write a decommissioning plan. The action is allowed under the special use permit with Minonk LLC paying the cost of the study. A copy of the report, which indicated the security deposit should be $15,135,851, was sent to Minonk Wind Farm LLC, which did not respond. With the passing of the resolution, the company now has 60 days to increase the security deposit.
Board members asked Spence what will happen if the company does not comply.
“We start going to court,” Spence said. “It seems like the wind farm has progressively dragged their feet. If they don’t pay, we’re going to have to see some kind of legal action.”
Spence also said he is confident the county can make a good court case.
“I’m not worried,” Spence said. “As a county, we have a strong case.”