November 28, 2023

upervisors discuss wind energy ordinance

The pursuit of a wind energy ordinance was discussed by the Union County Board of Supervisors, county residents and representatives from MidAmerican Energy Company and Invenergy during the boards’ regularly scheduled meeting Monday.

A wind energy ordinance could include information such as setbacks from residential properties of participating residents and non-participating residents, recreational areas, among others, and the decommissioning of wind turbines, safety provisions and waivers. Not all counties in Iowa have ordinances.

“I’d like to just be able to strike a balance between the county and the residents and their needs and have a successful wind energy operation,” said Ronald Riley, Union County supervisor.

Other concerns discussed included: airplanes, sound and shadow concerns, environmental impact, size of the project and economic benefits. The process of creating an ordinance was also discussed.

Adam Jablonski, director of renewable energy at MidAmerican Energy said that the company has its own set of guidelines regarding setbacks for a variety of situations including rivers, recreational areas, cemeteries, roads, transmission lines and gas lines in addition to residential setbacks.

Jablonski said that prior to any wind turbine project taking place, a variety of studies are conducted including sound studies, shadow studies and environmental studies, which Jablonski said that the environmental studies also consider the bird population. A portion of the environmental studies is focused on counting how many species of birds, what species of birds are in the area and how many of each species.

Riley asked if the estimate of 40 turbines in Union County and 40 in Adams county for the project is accurate. Jablonski said it is a good assumption and will likely change as certainty goes up and they can further define what the project will look like.

Riley asked about decommissioning turbines when they are no longer able to be used and how it is funded. Jablonski said MidAmerican Energy has the financial wherewithal to handle that when the time comes so it is up to the counties to decide if they want to have any kind of decommissioning plan or fund in place with any particular entity.

Jablonski said the project has economic benefits to landowners, who receive annual payments, job creation in the dozens and the environmental benefits of producing renewable energy. However, if you’re not a MidAmerican customer it may not directly impact your rates.

Concerns of an increase in assessed land value was addressed by Theresa Pudenz, Union County assessor. She said wind turbines are assessed as an industrial piece of property that has its own parcel number. The farmers still pya their property tax as usual and any increase due to the project is covered by the energy companies.

Awarding of bond

Piper Jaffrey Companes was chosen for the bond for the EMS system, DHS building and upgrades and refinancing of the Build America bonds. The interest rate is 2.8536 percent.