Public Hearing Tonight on Wells Co. Wind Farms

By Scott Sarvay
By Max Resnik

December 1, 2011 Updated Dec 1, 2011 at 7:15 PM EDT

WELLS COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Tonight, the Wells County Plan Commission will hold a public meeting at Southern Wells High School to answer questions about a proposed wind farm in the southern portion of the county.

Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 7:30 and the plan commission expects anywhere from a couple of dozen residents to upwards of 150 residents.

Apex Wind Energy is the company pursuing the initiative. The wind farm has been in the works for three years and will be built in portions of Chester and Liberty Townships. Apex Wind Energy plans to build 118 wind turbines in a two phase project. Mike Lautzenheiser, Director of the Wells County Plan Commission, says they hope to break ground on the project in May or June 2012.

Before any groundbreaking, Apex Wind Energy must find a power company to purchase the energy produced from the wind farm. A power-purchasing agreement will finance the $500 million to $600 million project. No local tax dollars are being used to fund the project, but Lautzenheiser says some federal subsidies might be incorporated.

Lautzenheiser says he does expect to hear some concerns from farmers leasing their land to Apex Wind Energy. He says there is some worry about the possibility broken drainage tiles.

“The possibility of private and public tile being damaged is a big deal for farmers, so that's one of the things that the county is working on with the agreements with the wind companies. It will also be discussed tonight at the plan commission meeting.”

Lautzenheiser says there are many positives with the addition of wind farms. He says Chester and Liberty residents will eventually pay less in their property taxes once the farm is up and running.

“Positives for the community would be the increase in net assessed value for the townships and that would lower the property taxes paid by the individuals.

Lautzenheiser says the possibility of the energy produced on the farm going elsewhere is highly likely. He says that Wells County was chosen as the location for its ability to hook up to a transmission line to move the energy. The transmission line allows the energy to be used anywhere between the east coast and Michigan.

Tune into Indiana’s NewsCenter tonight for community reaction.

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