PRINCETON — Bureau County Board, after hearing dissent from landowners, has reconsidered future decommissioning plans for Big Sky Wind Farm.
The board last month agreed to uphold the original decommission contract for the upcoming turbine replacements, which will require Big Sky to use a crane to remove turbines slated for replacement. They did however, agree to allow a newer ‘tilt-and-fall’ method of removal for future replacement projects.
That didn’t sit well with a vocal handful of landowners who spoke at this month’s meeting to urge the board to ammend their decision. The next decommissions are estimated not to happen for approximately 20 years.
Despite assurances from Big Sky representatives that tilt-and-fall is the newer, cleaner method of removal — one that will eliminate damage to land caused by multi-ton cranes, some landowners weren’t buying it. Those who spoke at the meeting said they are concerned that Mendota landowners, who experienced tilt-and-fall removal of turbines on their land, reported the method caused windows in their homes to shake. One of the speakers, Kendall Guither, spoke at this week’s and a previous board meeting expressed his concerns that tilt-and-fall could have a greater chance of damaging gas lines.
In the end, the board agreed to an amendment that will allow participating landowners to sign off on the method of their choice, with the exception of towers 21, 22 and 32, which will be required to be removed by crane.
Derek Whited (R-Princeton) and Kerwin Paris (R- LaMoille) voted no on the amendment. Bob Albrecht (R-Ohio) abstained because he said his family benefits from wind turbines and he didn’t want to give the appearance of any impropriety, though he said he supported the decision.