April 22, 2021

One more step for wind turbine construction to begin

Mid-American Energy seeks approval to begin work on wind turbines in Union County in April

The approval of the road agreement and decommissioning plan are all that stand in the way of the start of construction for wind turbines in Union County.

The Union County Board of Supervisors discussed the proposed decommissioning plan offered by Mid-American Energy for their wind farm project Monday at its regular weekly meeting.

Matt Ott, of Mid-American Energy, was present via phone conference.

Mid-American intends to begin building the wind farm, starting in Adair County, April 15, Ott said. It will only be a few days before they are ready to move into Union County. However, before work in Union County can begin, the road agreement and decommissioning plan must be approved by the board.

The majority of the decommissioning plan was set and approved by the board previously. The only major issue at hand is the estimated cost for removing the towers after their life span, which will be held in an escrow account or surety bond for the life of the farm.

“The main one is the estimated cost for the wind turbine decommissioning,” Supervisor Ron Riley said.

The plan presented to the board by Ott lists $36,800 per turbine or $1,249,850 for the entire farm. These numbers are after the scrap value of the towers is subtracted.

Supervisor Rick Friday noticed that the dollar amounts to not add up to the 36 wind turbines in the project. Ott said he was unsure why the numbers didn’t match and would see if there were additional circumstances that changed the total amount. He said the correct amount may be $34,717 per turbine. He will get back to the supervisors with the corrected numbers.

Once the dollar amounts provided by Mid-American Energy are amended, the supervisors must decide if they are adequate to provide a safety net for the county in case Mid-American were to collapse or otherwise become unable to remove the towers at the end of the project’s life.

“We have received information from people saying that it takes a lot more to take them down,” Riley said. “We need to know apples to apples for an Iowa project ... We need to find out from some kind of independent source.”

Riley suggested contacting the Iowa Environmental Council to see if they could help make the determination or provide the name of an independent engineer.

Ott said the numbers were compiled by an independent engineering firm, 1898 & Co., a subsidiary of Burns & McDonnell. A more specific break down of costs and projected revenue from scrapping parts of the towers is included in the proposal.

The decommissioning plan will be posted on the county website along with the road agreement at www.unioncountyiowa.org for public review. Those with questions or comments may contact one of the supervisors or the auditor.

The board members will make a decision on the agreements at its April 20 meeting.