Meetings set for O’Brien County wind projects

The main agenda item at the regular Tuesday morning July 30 session of the County Board of Supervisors was the discussion setting the date, time and location for the 500 megawatt, Invenergy Highland Wind Energy Project construction permit application hearing.All Board members were present. Invenergy project developer Erin Brush was present in the supervisor’s chambers. Invenergy’s other project developer Greg Leuchtmann was linked in via a conference call. Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission planning director Steven Hallgren was also linked in via conference call. Hallgren assists the county on matters of infrastructure development.The Board was aware that the likely date for the Invenergy hearing could conflict with a joint Iowa Utilities Board/Clean Line Energy public informational meeting at Hartley. Clean Line’s high voltage direct current (HVDC) wind energy transmission line from County to Grundy County, Illinois is steadily moving forward.Board chairman Tom Farnsworth opened the formal discussions when he explained the conflict with the two meetings. Farnsworth said, “Clean Line is meeting over in Hartley on August 20 at 9 a.m.. We’re planning on going over there and showing our support for Clean Line.So, we’re talking about an afternoon hearing August 20 for the Invenergy wind farm construction permit application. Then we’ll go into our regular weekly Board meeting after the public hearing is closed.”After a brief discussion about holding the public hearing at noon or 12:30, everyone concurred that noon was what would fit into everyone’s schedule. Farnsworth then asked for a motion stating that the Invenergy hearing will convene at noon on August 20 in the County Court House assembly room.Interesting Solar Power Facts

Supervisor Jim DeBoom offered that motion which was subsequently seconded. The Board unanimously approved the motion for holding the Invenergy construction permit public hearing after the Board returns from the IUB/Clean Line Energy public information meeting in Hartley.In other matters related to Invenergy’s construction permit application, Hallgren said he was working on a draft of the public hearing notice that’s to be published in all official county newspapers prior to the hearing.Hallgren said he was also working on the letter that’s to be mailed out to all landowners within or near the boundary of the 40,000-acre footprint of the wind farm. Hallgren expressed concern that the list from the abstractor has many parcels where the names of owners are repeatedly duplicated. He suggested that Invenergy clean up the duplicated names on this mailing list and pare the list down to 600 to 700 hundred affected landowners.Another matter to be resolved after the outcome of Invenergy’s construction permit vote is known concerns the de-commissioning agreement between the County and Invenergy.According to the County Wind Energy Device Ordinance, each wind turbine and its associated equipment must be removed and the land restored to its original condition down to four feet below grade, if the wind farm ceases to operate for an extended period of time. Financial assurance of up to $25,000 per turbine must be in place for this removal and restoration.The other issue that needs to be resolved once the construction permit is addressed concerns the complicated road use agreement between the County and Invenergy. Basically, if Invenergy causes damage to any roads or bridges due to the heavy equipment loads anticipated, Invenergy is responsible for making repairs.

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