Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 3, 2013

County mulls wind ordinance changes

Howard County commissioner says 'Everything is on the table'

By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — There could be changes coming to the Howard County ordinance that regulates the placement of wind turbines.

The Howard County Commissioners announced Monday they will make a recommendation at the July 15 meeting for the plan commission to consider revisions to the wind ordinance.

E.ON Climate & Renewables plans to construct three phases of the Wildcat Wind Farm in eastern Howard County with work possibly beginning later this year. To date, the company has not requested any improvement location permits.

Phase 2 will be located in Grant and Howard counties and is expected to generate 100 megawatts of electricity. Phases 3 and 4 will be located between Greentown and Converse and in the Windfall area, generating up to 800 megawatts of electricity, which will be tapped into the grid at a power substation south of Greentown.

A megawatt provides electrical energy to about 1,000 homes.

The first phase of the project involved the construction of 125 wind turbines in Tipton and Madison counties and started generating electrical energy in December.

Tyler Moore, president of the Board of County Commissioners, said Tuesday the intent is to pass a resolution asking the plan commission to draft an amendment to the wind ordinance and set a public hearing.

Moore said the recommendation will consider setbacks to neighboring properties for the placement of turbines, noise levels and permitted uses.

In Howard County, wind farms are allowed in most areas with the only requirement being approval of location improvement permits for each turbine.

“Everything is on the table,” Moore said. “We are taking into consideration the comments from opponents, leaseholders and working with E.ON.”

Moore said the county has not received a map from E.ON of where exactly the wind turbines would be located.

Commissioner Paul Wyman agreed more than one of the parameters set in the current wind ordinance is under consideration.

“We’re having an ongoing dialogue with E.ON,” he said.

Moore said the county could terminate an economic development agreement with E.ON that already has been approved. He said E.ON suing for breach of contract is a concern.

Grace Aprill, an opponent of the wind farm development, said she was surprised by the commissioners’ announcement, but is waiting to see what the recommendations will encompass.

“We’re tentatively happy,” she said. “There were no specifics provided.”

Aprill has delivered petitions to the commissioners signed by more than 900 people opposed to wind farm development in Howard County.

She anticipates a change in the setback requirement.

The current setback allows a wind turbine to be placed 1,050 feet from a dwelling. E.ON is proposing a 1,250-foot setback.

“A setback of 1,250 feet from the property line, instead of a dwelling is more acceptable,” Aprill said.

E.ON officials declined to comment.

The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals in March approved a conditional use permit for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northwestern Tipton County. In granting approval, the BZA imposed a 1,500-foot setback from a nonparticipating property line and required a property value guarantee from juwi Wind.

The company has requested modifications to the conditional use permit including: changing the setback to 1,400 feet from a residence and 750 feet from the property line of non-participating property owners and 1,250 feet from the residence of participating property owners.

The company submitted a property value guarantee plan that will cover residential property within three-quarters of a mile from a wind turbine and involve only the first sale after Prairie Breeze goes into operation.

The maximum amount juwi would be required to spend on the guarentee is $1 million.