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  • Last modified 15 days ago (Aug. 2, 2018)

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Zoning board considers
new towers for windfarm

Staff writer

The county zoning board is pursuing a plan for two new meteorological towers, which could lead to new wind turbines.

The proposed sites lie midway between Marion and Peabody, with one between 140th Rd. and Old Mill Rd., and the other between 100th and Mustang.

Even if the towers are constructed, it does not mean wind turbines will follow.

“A met tower itself is just a data collection tower,” zoning board assistant Sharon Omstead said. “It doesn’t collect wind, it doesn’t do any of that. It just takes readings.”

If approved, National Renewable Solutions will build the structures and collect data under the Expedition Wind project. After data analysis, NRS will decide whether the amount of warrants building turbines.

The company has towers across the country and many are not on wind farms, Jesse Hopkins-Hoel, director of development said.

“There are met towers scattered across the U.S. that don’t have turbines set up,” he said.

To continue with the projects, each application is published and a public hearing is held after 21 days.

Before they can put up towers, NRS must acquire conditional use permits for each of the sites.

County commission approval would be needed and sites must be deemed suitable for the proposed use, Omstead said.

Before reaching the county commission, the structures must pass a series of standards and safety regulations. These include determining who has access to the area, locations of nearby infrastructure, and existing or proposed utilities.

If any of these steps falls through, NRS cannot build the tower.

Judy and Tim Hiebert live nearby on 150th Street and they are afraid turbines will replace the towers.

Tim does not want to see a turbine every time he leaves his house, he said.

“We live out in the country for a reason, that’s to get away from everything,” Judy said.

NRS already has access to meteorological towers in the area, but wants more data for the western quadrant of the overarching Expedition Wind project.

The existing towers in the area lie closer to Florence and were recently bought by NRS from Windborn Energy.

“That was our intention, to sell the project to somebody else,” Winborn Energy part-owner Rex Savage said.

Savage usually works with oil fields and ranching, but there had been an interest in wind energy for about 10 years, he said.

“Two additional met towers are going to provide for better data and help to make the project more vetted,” Hopkins-Hoel said.

New data from the towers would help determine the best location for turbines, which might not be the same.

“First we’ve got to make sure the wind resource tests out as projected,” Hopkins-Hoel said.

There should be no problems with traffic and construction should only require a week, Hopkins-Hoel said.

“It’s not a very big job, they’re small, temporary structures,” he said.

According to Hopkins-Hoel, they will have very little effect on roads because there will be no heavy trucks.

Even during the proposal stage, there is still a possibility the project will not pass, Omstead said.

Since the sites are reviewed individually, it’s possible for one to be approved while another is not, she said.

Last modified Aug. 2, 2018

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