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Wind farm firm doubles payment offer to county

Expedition’s proposed offer pays twice the rate paid to Marion by Diamond Vista

Staff writer

A draft of the proposed agreement between Marion County and developers of a proposed wind farm shows the company is offering twice the per-megawatt rate the county is paid by Diamond Vista wind farm in the northern portion of the county. The proposed rate is $1,800 per megawatt over the first 10 years the wind farm operates.

The estimated total annual payment is $360,000 for the first year and $330,600 for the following nine years.

The payment in lieu of taxes agreement proposed by Expedition Wind Farm developers will be discussed with county commissioners at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Diamond Vista, which has agreed to pay $900 per megawatt, will lose its tax-free status in 10 years and stop making payments in lieu of taxes.

Expedition’s wind farm has been in development for more than a decade — and therefore conditional use permits for the project were issued under two different state laws allowing tax-free status.

Permits that were issued for turbines when the planned wind farm was being developed by a prior company were granted permanent tax-free status.

The proposed agreement offers $2,500 per megawatt in payments for turbines with lifetime exemption from taxes for years 11 through 15. The estimated annual payment is $330,600.

Expedition’s proposal in payment for turbines with lifetime exemption from taxes after 16 years is $4,000 per megawatt, with an estimated annual payment of $528,000.

Both Diamond Vista and Expedition Wind have the right to deduct any fees, assessment charges or surcharges imposed on them by the state or county — but the companies’ agreements on the payment of professional fees differ.

While Diamond Vista agreed to reimburse the county for fees from Kirkham Michael, the engineering company the county hired to help oversee the project, Diamond Vista has the option to deduct any costs, fees, or expenses of a third-party consultant that exceed $250,000 from annual payments to the county.

Expedition agrees to reimburse the county for professional service fees and third party engineering fees, but puts a $250,000 cap on professional service fees and a $350,000 cap on third party engineering fees. Amounts that exceed those caps can be deducted from annual payments at Expedition’s option following written notice to the county.

Expedition proposes a $2 million guarantee for road maintenance. They also propose forming a roads management working group to meet regularly during construction and after the project is finished.

They also propose $50,000 security for communication service maintenance.

Additionally, Expedition proposes a $9,360,000 security to decommission the wind farm.

Decommissioning obligations include removal of each turbine and tower and accessories, overhead transmission lines, substations, interconnection facilities, meteorological towers, and maintenance building; removal of foundations to a depth of four feet beneath the surface; removal of access roads, gates and fencing; restoration of the surface area; and repair of road damages.

Expedition also would carry insurance that would pay up to $2 million per occurrence and $10 million total during construction.

Last modified Nov. 14, 2019

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