Questions about a proposed repowering of a 17-turbine wind farm between Edgewood and Greeley brought landowners to the Delaware County Supervisors’ meeting Dec. 14 to share concerns.
Built nine years ago by RPM Access, the wind farm was sold earlier this year to Greenbacker Renewable Energy. The east coast company shared its plans to repower all 17 turbines with the supervisors at a Nov. 9 meeting. Greenbacker told supervisors that day the cost of the repowering would cost between $40-$45 million.
Visitors to Monday’s meeting shared concerns ranging from a lack of information from the company to compaction of farm ground due to heavy equipment moving across fields to access the turbines.
Theresa Beswick said the first time she heard about the proposed upgrades to the wind farm was when she read the plans in a newspaper article. “We had a great working relationship with the prior company,” she told the supervisors. “They were great to work with the landowners. We would like that to continue with the next one.”
At the November meeting, supervisors had expressed their concerns to a Greenbacker representative that landowners needed to be kept informed of upgrade plans.
Beswick said to date, landowners had only received an introductory letter from a company representative.
“By not coming to the landowners first and coming directly to the supervisors, it raises a red flag with us,” she said. “Why wouldn’t they be upfront with the landowners to say this is what they plan on doing. At this juncture, I would not be for supporting a variance for them until we have some more answers as landowners.”
Greenbacker is also requesting adding 25 years to the lifetime of the lease. The current lease is set to expire in 2042. Greenbacker’s request would have the lease run until 2066.
Kevin Klosterman told the supervisors he was wary of the extension. “Their proposal is out a long time. That would really be locking our next generation of farmers and young people on the farm into not a very good situation.” Klosterman also told supervisors his family has had very little information on the project. “Since they took over, we haven’t talked with the gentleman who is supposed to be in this area touching base with everyone. If there are issues, I wouldn’t even know who to call right now.”
Bob Phillip said when the original turbines went up nine years ago, he allowed heavy machinery to cut across his field. “I told them they could go ahead and do it. But it compacted so bad that we can still see the effects in our beans with a drone. It hasn’t come out of it yet. I don’t know if I will let them go across again. I think they have to talk with us to let us know what is going on so we can decide if we are in favor of this or not.”
Supervisor Shirley Helmrichs told the visitors the supervisors have more questions for Greenbacker representatives. “We did ask a lot of questions of them when they came. They responded a little bit but haven’t answered all our questions yet.”
Greenbacker representatives are expected to attend the next supervisor meeting, Monday, Dec. 21, to discuss their proposal. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m.
Following the meeting, Supervisor Chair Jeff Madlom said he has concerns about how Greenbacker is communicating with affected landowners.
“The old company was excellent to work with. They kept the landowners informed. That hasn’t happened this time and that’s why we as supervisors haven’t passed anything. We don’t have either a variance or a change to our ordinance. We won’t do that until we know exactly what they have done with the landowners, that they have contacted them and that everything is upfront and we know where they stand. So we are taking our time to do this right.”
Greenbacker has indicated it wishes to begin the project in the spring. Madlom said much has to happen before supervisors approve that time table. “This company has a lot of work to do yet. We won’t do anything until the landowners and residents of Delaware County are comfortable moving forward with this company addressing their issues.”