Wind farm group to hold public meetings

Supervisors say they don't have a lot of influence in project


LEE COUNTY – Public meetings have been scheduled for this week to discuss a proposed 300 mw wind turbine farm in Lee County.
According to a letter property owners are receiving, the meetings are scheduled for May 21-23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Quality Inn & Suites on Fort Madison’s west side.
Supervisors are skeptical about the project, but are also just as skeptical about anything they may be able to do to stop the project outside of putting conditions on county roads for hauling the equipment.
Supervisor Garry Seyb said Henry County has been in the news lately with the possibility of wind turbines in that county.
“I have had a few farmers contact me and I think this really lines up with where we we're at with the CO2 pipeline as far as the county’s capacity to do anything being limited,” he said.
“We don’t have any ordinances. We don’t have any zoning. We don’t have anything like that really set up. Where we are impacted is more along the secondary road impact and how they get from point A to point B installed.”
Andrew Johnson of West Point spoke up about the wind farm being proposed by Tenaska Energy Co. of Omaha, Neb., and the Canadian power company Cordelio.
Johnson and his wife Amanda have been peppered with utility easement requests and have been very vocal about the intrusion of utility companies into Lee County. Johnson has been ever present at utility board and county meetings on proposed projects like the former Navigator CO2 pipeline project that was derailed in name.
“I’d like to think you guys would like to have some input for your long-term goals as far as the county or regulations as far as where these windmills go how close to other properties, at least considered,” Johnson said.
“I think you guys should have at least some input as to what happens in the county,” he said.
Johnson received a letter from Tenaska as a property owner in the projected area of the project.
“You are receiving this letter because you have been identified as a landowner within our target area for a proposed 300 MW wind project in Lee County, Iowa. We are seeking your input to help inform our decisions as we begin to develop a renewable energy project in this area.”
The wind farm project would be called Turkey Run Wind. The letters are preliminary interest letters for property owners who may be willing to lease land to the company to build the windmills, and to inform them of the upcoming meetings in Fort Madison.
“We consider our projects to be community endeavors, and we depend on good working relationships with local leaders to help maximize the benefits to the community while also ensuring our plants remain competitive businesses and stable employers,” the letter indicated.
Also in the letter, Tenaska indicated they will have land agents in the county this week to discuss the project with landowners.
The letter was signed by Michelle Arenson, Senior Director of Development with Tenaska.
Seyb said he’s heard and read about some concerns with the wind turbines including “flicker” effects of shadows cast on homes. County Engineer Ben Hull said there is also concern about setbacks from the towers out of concern of them failing. Hull said the angular momentum of blades, and even ice flying off the blades can cause debris to fly quite a way outside of the setbacks.
Amanda Johnson said there are some connections to the Tenaska company and the former CEO of Navigator CO2. She said the easements that will be required to build the windmills and prior easements secured for other utilities are transferrable upon sale, and any new owners of the easements could do other things with the easements as long as they are utlity-oriented. Andrew Johnson said they could run a transmission line through the fields if they wanted.
In a previous article, Kyle Gerking, a Tenaska project manager out of Omaha, said the project could be as big as 400 megawatts. But he said as a private energy group they can’t use eminent domain and are hoping to secure leases with all the property owners for the project.
“We’re very early in development. The size of that project is up to 400 megawatts contingent upon securing land rights and getting interconnection rights that will enable us to move forward,” he said previously.
He said the project would have a footprint of 20,000 to 40,000 acres, but only 50 to 100 acres of land would be taken out of production. He said the project would be in northwest Lee County and, at this point, not in any other county.
“That could evolve as our land acquisition matures, but as of now it’s entirely within the county,” Gerking said.

Tenaska, Cordelio, power, wind farm, wind mills, Lee County, news Pen City Current, Garry Seyb, Andrew Johnson, land owners, rights, setbacks, electricity


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