Wind Farm a real possibility for Rush County

A proposal for a three-county (Fayette, Henry and Rush) wind farm project gained local support earlier this week. A similar project a few years earlier never got off the ground following a number of meetings with the counties involved. NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, is looking into placing eight wind turbines in Henry County, 60 in Fayette County and 25 in Rush County.

According to Rush County ECDC Director John McCane, as proposed, the local wind turbines would be located on rural property in Washington and Union Townships with construction beginning in 2016. Earlier this week, a public meeting was held on the proposed project with members of the county council and the Rush County Commissioners and representatives from NextEra Energy Resources in attendance. Following an explanation of the proposed plan in which NextEra would invest $82 million in equipment and real estate improvements, they requested a 10-year property tax abatement.

A number of individuals voiced their concerns and thoughts on the project prior to the county leaders rendering a decision. County commissioner Bruce Levi said that this week’s decision is only one of the numerous steps necessary for the project to move forward. “Essentially, we have opened the door to the possibility of this becoming a local reality. It all depends on if they (NextEra) can sell the power they generate,” Levi said. The county leaders agreed to an economic development agreement, which, once set in place, Rush County would receive $12,000 per megawatt of electrical power generated by the wind turbines. The county leaders then turned their attention to an agreement regarding drainage and county roads issues. McCane said that any damage to Rush County roads or drainage infrastructures due to size and magnitude of placing the turbines and gaining access to the rural property will be replaced and would be covered by Whitewater Wind, LLC.

A decommissioning agreement was the third agreement the county leaders agreed to. If the project is decommissioned, Whitewater Wind, LLC would be responsible for the cost to remove the turbines and up to four feet of the base they rest upon. In a final matter, a majority carried the vote by the county council to grant 10-year property tax abatement for the project. Commissioner Mark Bacon said that roughly a single acre of land is necessary for each turbine, a plot that includes roadway access and a station and the tower itself. “I’m not so sure I wouldn’t put one on my property if I was asked to do so,” Bacon said.

McCane agreed with the county leaders in that Wednesday’s decision was just one step in the process with similar proposals and meetings being held in Fayette and Henry counties. “Rush County made the first step in the process today. I see it as a win-win in a number of areas. If the project is realized, the county will see financial growth by the workers placing the turbines, the property owners will be compensated for their rural ground and the county will receive funding from the energy provided,” McCane said.

Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.