The Lafayette County Board met Tuesday, Nov. 15 and heard from a representative of the Quilt Block Wind Farm that will be constructed in Seymour Township next year.
Darcy Lydum, a Development Project Manager and Jesse McKenna, a Project Manager, both whom work for EDP Renewables, asked to speak to the board to update them on how the project is progressing.
Lydum explained that this project is located entirely in Seymour Township and began back in 2003. It consists of nearly 12,000 acres under lease with 44 landowners. A company called Vestas will manufacture the turbines in Colorado. The 49 turbines will be less than 500 ft tall. The turbines will give off a total of 98 megawatts of energy. That is enough to power 36,000 homes. It would be environmentally equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road.
EDP Renewables has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed with Dairyland Power Cooperative for the purchase of all of the 98MW of project capacity. It is a regional utility company serving approximately 600,000 rural customers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
They have achieved sale of the electricity output and procurement of wind turbines. They secured over 95% of the land needed to construct the project. They have finished their bat and eagle studies. The eagle study identified that there were no nests on site or within two miles of the site, which meets the guideline from the Wisconsin DNR. What could draw the eagles to the area would be exposure to livestock carcasses so they will be working with landowners and local farmers on containment strategies. The noise study showed there would be no impact above 52 decibels, which is a stipulation in the contract between the county and the township.
Construction is to take place in 2017. In the first quarter of the project, they will be installing permanent meteorological towers to forecast the wind. In the second quarter possibly starting around April or whenever the weather cooperates, they plan on pouring the foundation, getting roads ready for the turbines to be transported to their final destinations, and digging trenches for the collector lines. Turbines deliveries begin in July-September. The fourth quarter of their plan, they hope to have all the electrical work completed on the turbines and have everything up and running.
Lydum also talked about the jobs this project would likely create. There will be up to 250 jobs during the peak of construction. It will also create 12-13 full-time, permanent jobs during the operations of the turbines.
Supervisor Bob Boyle asked if any of those 250 jobs, would be local?
“Some may be local. We encourage our contractor to hire as much locally as possible. A couple people have reached out to me about jobs but until we select the contractor, we can’t get involved. I plan on reaching back out to those folks once we lock down the people doing the work,” Lydum stated. She added that they hope to have as much local impact as possible.
They will have a permanent office in the business park in Darlington. If people have concerns, they will be able to reach out to the people in that office for the entire duration of the project. The agreement EDP Renewables has with Dairyland Power Cooperative is a 20 year project life. At the end of that project, they can either look for a new power purchase off taker and go out and be a merchant provider of electricity.
Chairman Jack Sauer asked if the closing of the Cassville coal plant had anything to do with Dairyland Power Cooperative needing to purchase more power. Lydum did not know but stated she would contact them and get more information.
Supervisor Leon Wolfe asked what the county and township would receive as dollar figures. The county would receive $200,000 and the township would receive $150,000. That is based on gross revenues of the wind farm.
Kriss Marion asked about a decommissioning clause once the project has ended. A fund will be started during the project so when it has ended, that money will be used to bring the land back to the way it was before. They restore the land down to 36 inches but everything below that will not be ripped out. The electric lines will stay put so to not disturb the land a second time. They have not decommissioned any of their wind farms so far.
Wolfe also asked about the roads of the county and township. Lydum stated that it is EDP Renewables obligation to fix all roads that could be disturbed and bring them back to their original condition. Anything in the project area would be EDP Renewables responsibility to fix and anything outside of their project would be the responsibility of Vestas, the manufacturer. The county will not be responsible to pay for any damaged roads.
Audience member, Mark Kieler asked about how far the wind turbines could be set from homes, farms and outbuildings. Their guideline is to be 1,500 ft away from any residence and 1,200 ft away from barns on leased land. They keep 500 ft away from roads and more than 500 ft away from any property boundary that does not have a leased agreement.
EDP Renewables does not have any other wind farms in Wisconsin. They do have 37 operating wind farms throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. They have four more coming online by the end of this year.
There will be an open house hosted in January 2017.
The Lafayette County Board also approved:
-Resolution 57-16: to expend the funds appropriated and funds received from the State of Wisconsin for the improvement of the fish and wildlife habitat and authorized the Lafayette County Planning and Zoning Manager to submit a state grant application to the Wisconsin DNR for financial aid for fish and game projects.
-Resolution 58-16: wage increases for the Chief Deputy/Undersheriff, Lieutenant and Confidential Executive Administrative Assistant effective Jan. 1, 2017 to $4,000 annually for the Chief Deputy/Undersheriff, an increase of $.75 per hour for the Lieutenant and $.50 per hour for the Confidential Executive Administrative Assistant.
-Resolution 59-16: creation of a Mental Health Coordinator position in the Comprehensive community Services (CCS) Program within the Human Service Department with a wage range from $20.18 to $23.74/hour.
-Resolution 60-16: creation of a wage range for the Pharmacist position at MHLC starting at $120,000 to $140,000.
-Resolution 61-16: Amending Resolution 48-16: wage increase for Certified Nursing Assistants at MHLC by $1.55 per hour for all existing and newly employed C.N.A’s.
-Resolution 62-16: a $.33 per hour cost of living adjustment for all non-represented employees.
-Resolution 63-16: Amending Resolution 50-16: creation of an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant position with a wage range of $90,000 per year to $120,000.
-Resolution 64-16: borrowing up to $1,300,000 to fund the purchase of the real estate and assets of Family Health of Lafayette County.
-Resolution 65-16: borrowing up to $1,400,000 to fund the 2017 EPIC purchase and implementation.
-Resolution 66-16: authorizing the 2016 levy in the amount of $7,311,356, $149,187 is levied against the appropriate property of Lafayette County as Library Tax, $40,000 be levied for County Aid Bridge Construction and $190,628.75 be levied against the property of Lafayette County as a State Forest Tax.
-Resolution 67-16: allowing MHLC to purchase the assets and business currently owned by Family Health of Lafayette County.
-Resolution 68-16: allowing MHLC to purchase the real estate currently owned by Family Health of Lafayette County