By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
A second company is moving forward with plans to open a wind farm in northwest Tipton County, with construction expected to start by 2015.
The Tipton County Council Tuesday approved the application of juwi Wind Energy to construct up to 94 wind turbines in Prairie Township. A committee consisting of Councilwoman Beth Roach, Commissioner Mike Cline and Steve Edson, director of the Tipton County Plan Commission, will review the application and make a recommendation on a requested tax abatement for the project.
The committee’s decision will be announced at a 7 p.m. public hearing at the Tipton Community Foundation Dec. 3. Final approval could take place at the council’s regular meeting Dec. 18.
Juwi’s Prairie Breeze Wind Farm would be located between 200 North and the Howard County line, and 400 West and the Clinton County line.
The company is expected to invest between $100 million and $300 million.
Matt Heck of juwi Wind Energy said the company is based in Colorado. It has 22 employees and several wind energy projects under development.
“We have been working in Tipton County for several years,” he said. “We have leases with 50 local property owners, which contains 150 parcels.”
Heck said the company recently installed two additional wind measuring towers.
Commissioner Jane Harper said the board passed a resolution in support of the project. She said it is a permitted use under Tipton County zoning regulations but would need a conditional use permit approved by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals.
The company has agreed to pay an economic development fee of $700,000 to Tipton County over four years, she said. For each megawatt over 52 megawatts, the company would pay the county $11,000 for a possible total of $1.3 million.
Harper said permit fees to the county will be $107,500 for 50 megawatts of wind energy and $1,750 for each additional megawatt.
Heck said the company is still in discussions with some property owners, but will provide a memorandum of understanding for the leases already signed.
He said there will be between 31 and 94 wind turbines in the project.
Heck said construction is scheduled to begin in 2015, but could be under way in 2014. And if the federal tax credit for wind energy projects, set to expire on Dec. 31, is extended for one year, juwi would try to move forward with construction in 2013, Heck said.
He said road agreements with the county have not been finalized, but the agreement the county has with E.ON Climate & Renewables in the eastern part of the county is being used as a model.
Heck said the company will construct a maintenance-and-control facility that will be a part of the request for a conditional use permit.
The life of the turbines is 20 to 25 years, but many erected in the 1980s are still in operation, he said.
Councilman Brad Nichols said the company is requesting a 10-year tax abatement, but the council should consider a seven-year abatement. He said with a seven-year abatement, the county would receive an additional $620,000.
“This is a unique project,” Nichols said. “Almost all capital and very few jobs.”
E.ON is completing work on the first phase of the Wildcat Wind Farm project that is being developed in Howard, Madison, Tipton and Grant counties.
The company is in the process of constructing 125 wind turbines in Tipton and Madison counties, and is making a $400 million investment.