Proposed cass co. wind project contracts released wind energy news gas in back symptoms

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The Cass County Commissioners made public three agreements between the county and Harvest Wind Energy LLC Monday. The company is a subsidiary of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, or RES, based in Broomfield, Colorado. A financial adviser and attorney working for Cass County gave presentations on the contracts at the commissioners bi-monthly meeting Monday.

Jason Semler, a partner with H.J. Umbaugh and Associates’ Indianapolis office, said the proposed 200-megawatt project would result in about a $335 million investment in the county. Cass County’s gross assessed value would rise by over $100 million, he said.

RES is pursuing the project in Cass County’s northern townships. Semler said the project would give Adams Township’s cumulative fund an extra $3,000 a year and Bethlehem Township’s an extra $4,000 a year. Harrison and Boone townships’ cumulative fire funds would gain $4,700 and $8,000 annually respectively.

All of the townships would all experience a similar decrease, Semler said. Adams Township’s property tax rate, for instance, would decrease by almost 12 cents per $100 of assessed value during the abatement period. A home with a gross assessed value of $50,000 would see its tax bill drop by about $10, Semler said, drawing a laugh from the audience. Semler added that same bill would drop by about $20 after the 10-year abatement.

RES has agreed to give economic development payments to the county in the amount of $25,000 per megawatt, Semler said. The 200-megawatt project would total $5 million, which RES would give the county in annual $1.25 million payments over four years.

The economic development agreement outlines the setback rules the project would follow as well. Turbines would be at least 1,000 feet from nonparticipating property lines, 1,640 feet from residences and have 50-decibel limits 50 feet from homes.

Hall said the road agreement would require RES to indicate which roads would be used to transport turbine equipment for construction and which drains would potentially be affected. Then engineers would prepare a road condition report. If in poor condition, Hall said RES would upgrade the road before construction.

The decommissioning agreement would require RES to take the turbines down if the project does not generate electricity for 12 consecutive months, Hall said. A bond or letter of credit from a credit-worthy company would fund the decommissioning in the event RES or its successor could not.

Cass County Commissioners President Jim Sailors said at the meeting that an evening public meeting will be scheduled where attendees can ask questions about the project. The commissioners will then vote on the three agreements at one of their regularly scheduled meetings after that. Sailors said after Monday’s meeting that RES will be represented at the upcoming public meeting.

NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said by phone Monday that the company is aware RES has spoken with landowners above or near underground natural gas storage fields, but that RES has yet to contact NIPSCO about the project. He was reluctant to comment on the potential for turbines compromising the integrity of NIPSCO’s underground natural gas system until knowing more about the plans.