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Wind farm challenged yet again

Staff writer

Four Florence men made a last-minute effort Monday to get county commissioners to halt development of a wind farm by claiming a predecessor owner of the project was involved in fraud.

Sunflower Wind, now owned by the Danish company Orsted, will sponsor a ground breaking ceremony Thursday.

Tom Britain, who was scheduled for 1:45 p.m. on Monday’s agenda to talk about corruption, did not come to the meeting at his scheduled time. He did appear half an hour later, saying he had expected others to appear with him.

“I should have been here, and I understand that,” he said. “People are at work, and I’ve had trouble getting them together.”

Britain said he’d come back and talk during public comment session.

Documents he provided to the commission last week included media coverage of a company that went bankrupt several years ago. The incidents that took place at that time involved companies that owned the project before Orsted purchased it and renamed it Sunflower Wind.

Britain was joined by Florence mayor Bob Gayle, Ed Robinson, and Gary Williams.

Britain read from a magazine. Commission chairman David Mueller cut him short.

Gayle said when he’d tried to talk about the wind farm earlier, he was cut off.

“Since then, I got a little frustrated and did a little research on this,” he said. “I did a little digging to see where the money came from, and it’s pretty dirty.”

Gayle said he wanted commissioners to “look back.”

Mueller said Gayle was talking about a previous company, and Gayle agreed.

“Since a new company is trying to take over, is this going to be a scam too?” Williams said.

Williams said he didn’t know whether it was the commission’s responsibility or whether “we have to hire someone else to do it.”

Mueller told the men Orsted has a long history, not only in the United States, but worldwide.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Purchased a $115,774 security camera system for the courthouse and rejected bids for a camera system at the south road and bridge shop.
  • Heard a report from county engineer Brice Goebel that Sunflower Wind is putting rock on roads.
  • Bought a $33,686 magnet to remove metal pieces from gravel road. The motion passed on a 4-1 vote, with commissioner Jonah Gehring opposed.

Last modified June 29, 2022

 

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