Articles from Indiana
While most of the updates to the county master plan were put on hold at Tuesday's Plan Commission meeting, one section on towers was approved to include resolutions on wind turbines. County Planner Mitch Bishop said the intent was to provide protection for county residents. Other portions of the master plan were tabled so commission members could think more about proposed ordinances. Bishop said there has been speculation from developers wanting to construct large wind turbines in the county and there were no ordinances regarding them.
The Marshall County Plan Commission is continuing to look into preparing an ordinance concerning Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS). Plan Commissioner Ralph Booker gave a brief overview of ordinances that have been adopted in other counties in the state, including Tippecanoe and Benton Counties. ...Booker said the only regulation that pertains to a WECS now in Marshall County is the requirement of 15 feet from a property line and the structure must be on a foundation.
Members of the Clinton County Area Plan Commission Ordinance Review Committee spent some time Tuesday afternoon taking a close look at zoning regulations that govern potential wind farms in the county. The meeting held here is the first session the committee has had since several members toured an 87-turbine wind farm in Benton County that began generating electricity earlier this year. Clinton County's wind farm ordinance borrows much of its content from the one that was crafted for Benton County.
As of Wednesday, the county has a new policy in place. The new policy would fall under the zoning districts' utilities or miscellaneous section and be categorized as a special exception in the city and special use in the county, he said. "What we want to do is make sure adjacent property owners are notified and have no problem with it," he said. "And we want them to meet some basic requirements of height and size."
After taking two weeks to ponder their decision, the Brookston town council gave their sanction to allow a wind-energy project to expand its border Wednesday. Martin N. Culik, a project manager with Horizon Wind Energy, began discussing the expansion of the local wind-turbine project during Brookston's June 11 meeting. Horizon, a Texas company that owns several United States wind farms, has been working with local leaders and property owners to develop the necessary laws and lease the required land to build a colony of wind turbines.
Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC is looking to increase the size of its proposed wind farm for White County even before area leaders finalize a deal for the project. The company originally planned to lease 30,000 to 35,000 acres for the wind farm. Now it has the potential to expand to 100,000 acres. White County Economic Development Director Connie Neininger says several land owners are now asking if the company will put a wind turbine on their property.
A new debate has popped up between members of city government and the school board: Birds. Where they fly, to be more precise. And while members from each group have presented clear answers to the question, experts say it's not so well defined.
The Randolph County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) Monday unanimously approved a petition for a wind energy company to install test towers at two locations in the county. "We are looking to develop a wind farm here in Randolph County to convert wind to electrical power," said Ryan Brown, a project development manager for Horizon Wind Energy. "Our goal right now is to collect wind data to help us make decisions regarding the establishment of a wind farm in the county."
The meeting had been to discuss the feasibility of Brookston owning some power-generating windmills or purchasing electricity directly from Horizon's proposed White County wind farm. ...Butz said that if Brookston pursues supplemental wind power to help keep electrical costs down, management could be the biggest factor aside from the cost of purchasing and installing equipment; overall, there are still many questions regarding whether the project could be feasible. "Basically, it's a really early stage, and Ken (Smith of Municipal Civil Corporation) is seeing what's out there and what the options are," said Butz.
The potential for profit is driving the development of an increasing number of wind farm projects, including a proposal that would generate electricity from wind that blows across rural land south of Greater Lafayette. Invenergy Wind North America LLC is developing the Tri-County Wind Energy Center, which is designed to place wind turbines on property in southwestern Tippecanoe, northwestern Montgomery and northeastern Fountain counties. ... "It's a pretty ambitious project -- anywhere from 300 to 400 megawatts in size -- thousands of acres at this point."
A Texas company plans to invest several hundred million dollars in Randolph County because it meets three essential requirements. Land owners are receptive, it's windy enough and there are existing electric-transmission lines. In a secret-ballot vote, a group of several dozen land owners overwhelmingly chose Horizon Wind Energy to develop a 100 megawatt to 200 MW wind farm south of Winchester, said Randolph County Farm Bureau President Tom Chalfant.
Even if Virginia-based AES or Oregon-based PPM Energy secures enough land to make the project feasible, the project could take years to complete - if ever. But there's no doubt wind power is increasingly practical - and that officials would like Allen County to jump on the bandwagon. "Hopefully the people out there will accept it," said Commissioner Bill Brown. "This could provide $1 million of income (for landowners) every year, increase assessed value and help the community. Wind farms also tend to generate plenty in property taxes, Burdick said. The question is: Will Coomer and other landowners conclude the benefits outweigh the drawbacks? And even if they do, would such a huge and potentially controversial project be approved by government regulators?
The development of a wind farm in south central Randolph County will be announced at a news conference on March 19. Tom Chalfant, president of Randolph County Farm Bureau, declined to discuss details of the project, including its developer. "I don't have clearance from the company that's doing it," he said. "Most of the information should be coming from them." ...Cris Dorman, spokesman for the Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development, said of the wind farm being proposed in Randolph County, "Right now all I know is it is not up to the scale of either of the other two in Benton County."
White County Commissioners are taking the next action in helping the county become a home for an energy wind farm as they prepare for a public meeting to review a wind ordinance. John Heimlich, president of the White County Commissioners, announced at a regular commissioners meeting on Tuesday that the draft of the ordinance is in its final stages. "An ordinance was created for the purpose of having a wind farm in White County," Heimlich said. "Without the ordinance Horizon Energy can't continue. We are bringing it to the public to get their feedback."
A House committee voted down a bill Thursday that would have required Indiana to generate 10 percent of its electricity from wind and other renewable sources by 2018 - a measure supporters said would attract new investment to the state. The House Commerce, Energy and Utilities Committee defeated the bill on a 3-8 vote after its chairman, Rep. Dave Crooks, D-Washington, refused to consider amendments he said were concessions to the state's electric utilities. ...During a hearing last week before Crooks' committee, Ed Simcox, the president of the Indiana Energy Association, said Crooks' bill was too ambitious for Indiana and that it would have cost the state's utilities $5 billion to achieve the 10 percent renewable energy goal by 2018. "The percentages are too great," Simcox said at that meeting. He also said his utility industry group believes a state mandate isn't needed because companies are already pursuing renewable energy projects in Indiana without a mandate.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approved a petition from independent power producer Fowler Ridge Wind Farm LLC to build and operate a 750-megawatt power generating wind farm in Fowler, Indiana and as provided by statute, partially declined to exercise regulation. ...Electricity generated at the facility will be sold on the wholesale market. Fowler Ridge Wind Farm L.L.C. does not intend and is not authorized by the IURC to sell any electricity generated from this facility to the public on a retail basis.
Within the next few years, dozens of wind turbines could be erected in Randolph County ... Indianapolis attorney Christopher (Kit) Earle, of Bose McKinney & Evans, advised farmers attending the meeting that land lease payments were just one issue they should address in a contract with energy companies. Other issues include access roads to the wind turbine for construction, operation and maintenance; soil compaction; escalation of lease payments to take inflation into account during the 20- to 40-year life span of the wind farm; underground electrical cables and their impact on cultivation and drainage tiles; fixed payments versus royalties or percentage of revenues from a wind farm; negotiating as a group because of safety-in-numbers advantages; and decommissioning turbines when they are no longer useful.
Randolph County farmer Eric Bentz looks forward to leasing some of his ground to a wind-energy company but is concerned about how others will react. "It could be a decent source of stable revenue as long as people can can accept how they look," Bentz said after a wind-energy meeting last week sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau. Mary Ferris, president of Randolph County Farm Bureau, agreed. "Some people will not like the big tall structures," she said. "But we've got to do something to produce our own energy."
Several companies are expressing interest in developing wind farms in Randolph, Jay and Wayne counties. "Land owners in those counties are being approached by wind development people," said Tom Chalfant, president of the Randolph County Farm Bureau. "I'd guess 200 or 300 or more have been approached or would be affected by these projects." ...But as wind farms are developed in Indiana, "we need to give consideration to local concerns like property values and birds and bats," Menzer said. "We need to be sensitive to local concerns. We don't want to steamroll people like we've done with hog farms, merchant power plants and ethanol plants."
Supporters and opponents of Duke Energy's plans to build a new coal gasification power plant in Knox County are preparing for a public hearing this evening in Bloomington before the state's utility regulators. ..."We see this as a quantum leap in electric power generation," said John Goss, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation. Coal gasification plants are "at least 10 times better at removing air pollution," he said. He also believes the proposed plant would emit about 90 percent less mercury than the existing Edwardsport plant, which was built in the 1950s. The proposed plant also would be welcome since it would open the door to study further large-scale capturing of carbon emissions, Goss said.