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Expedition Wind, county discuss farm's development plans

Staff writer

Expedition Wind and county commissioners had their first public discussion Monday of a proposed development agreement that must be approved before building permits will be issued for work on a planned wind farm.

Both parties consulted a draft agreement of the proposal during the discussion. The newspaper requested a copy of the draft proposal and has not received the document.

Commissioner Dianne Novak said she thinks a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, which also must be approved before work can begin, should be agreed upon first.

Referencing the draft, Novak said she doesn’t like reading the term “when reasonable, if necessary.”

“My definition of ‘when reasonable’ might be different than yours,” Novak said.

Novak also asked if the wind farm will be willing to provide a property resale guarantee to landowners.

Wind farm representatives said “yes.”

Pat Pelstring, CEO of National Renewable Solutions, the company developing Expedition Wind Farm, said a large number of factors affect property values.

Jesse Hopkins-Hoel, vice president of development, said the wind farm is a 72-turbine project.

“This source of renewable energy not only benefits our environment, it benefits the landowners and surrounding area as well,” Pelstring said.

Pelstring said the company understands change can be difficult to understand, embrace and accept, and wants to quell fears circulating in the county.

Turbine towers will be about 350 feet tall, with the blades reaching about 500 feet, nearly identical to turbines in the Diamond Vista wind farm in the northern section of the county.

Farmers and ranchers will be able to use their land the same way they already do, Pelstring said. Those with leases will have a second source of income.

The company has 25 signed participation agreements with landowners who neighbor the project or have too few acres to sign a lease for wind turbines. Qualifying landowners within a half mile of turbines can sign an agreement now through construction and be paid $2,000 a year.

Expedition’s plans have been discussed in more than 10 public hearings that have allowed the public to voice their concerns.

Despite this, opponents of the project, who say they have been given no real say, have filed lawsuits to stop development.

Pelstring said he is confident the courts will uphold the county’s planning and zoning process.

Energy produced by Expedition Wind will benefit both county residents and others outside the county and state, he said.

Although the details of Expedition’s offer on a payment in lieu of taxes agreement has not been made public despite media requests, Pelstring said Expedition’s plans are more lucrative than an agreement earlier signed with Diamond Vista.

Besides the development agreement and payment in lieu of taxes agreement, a road maintenance agreement must be approved before building permits will be issued. Commissioners and wind farm officials will hold a special meeting to discuss potential agreements at 1 p.m. Monday.

Last modified Nov. 7, 2019

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