Hilltopper expected to start
construction in April
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[February 23, 2018]
Tuesday, February 20, the Logan County Board held its regular
monthly meeting, voting on several motions. The focus of discussion
was whether to approve the HillTopper Wind Farm Project Road Use
Agreement and Patrick Engineering’s recommendation of the review of
Swift Current Energy’s Decommissioning Plan Proposal.
Board members present were Kevin Bateman, Dave Blankenship, Emily
Davenport, Bob Farmer, David Hepler, Gloria Luster, Gene Rohlfs,
Chuck Ruben Bob Sanders, Scott Schaffenacker and Annette Welch.
Janet Dahmm was absent.
Guests at the meeting included Matt Birchby, William Kelsey, and
Daniel Sheehan, all of the company developing the Hilltopper Wind
Project, Swift Current Energy; and Kyle Barry, attorney for the
After Road and Bridge Chairman Bob Farmer brought forward the motion
to approve the Road Use Agreement, a few board members had
Board member Gene Rohlfs asked about the definitions for maintenance
and operation phases and extraordinary event.
County Highway Engineer Bret Aukamp said the operation phase will
happen when the wind farm is completely constructed, operable, and
producing electricity, until it is decommissioned.
Aukamp said if one turbine needs to be repaired, it would not be
considered an extraordinary event. Repairs to multiple turbines
would be considered an extraordinary event, and they may need
another road use agreement in place.
Aukamp said the roads can sustain the wear and tear for “routine
maintenance” like bringing in cranes every few years. For ordinary
maintenance, the overweight and oversize permits are enough.
Board Chairman Chuck Ruben said that at the Railsplitter Wind Farm
thirteen semi loads recently brought in the pieces of a big crane to
fix a Nacelle, which houses the generating components of the wind
turbine. He asked if overweight permits had been needed for them to
haul in the crane.
Aukamp said he did not think any new components were brought in and
all the loads were legal size since they came in in so many
Birchby said his company would be financially responsible for
repairing any damage they cause to the roads.
Board member Dave Blankenship asked if a Nacell fire could be
corrected by maintenance, and felt it would instead need “repairs
and upgrades.” Blankenship said that would be a significant event
and felt the county would be “mitigating the risk” for Swift Current
Rohlfs asked whether maintenance is synonymous with repair.
Matt Birchby said Swift Current Energy would be responsible for
fixing any damages “beyond the use of normal vehicular traffic on
road.” The company does not want to “create a gap and expose risks.”
Birchby said maintenance would be synonymous with repair and
maintenance is considered a routine operation. Something like a
Nacell fire would not be routine.
Birchby said bringing in a crane would also be covered by the road
use agreement because it is something they only have to do every
couple of years. When they bring in successive loads, it is done in
a way to limit the loads on the road.
Blankenship said terms on the agreement should include repairs
Road and Bridge Chairman Bob Farmer’s motion to approve the Road Use
Agreement for the HillTopper Wind Farm Project was approved 8-2-1
with Kevin Bateman, Emily Davenport, Bob Farmer, David Hepler,
Gloria Luster, Chuck Ruben, Bob Sanders and Annette Welch voting
yes. Dave Blankenship and Gene Rohlfs voted no. Scott Schaffenacker
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Ruben said he would sign the agreement pending approval of the
State’s Attorney’s review.
Decommissioning Plan update
At Thursday’s board workshop, Matt Birchby of Swift Current Energy updated the
board on the agreement for the Decommissioning Plan drafted by Westwood
Engineering and reviewed by Patrick Engineering.
Birchby said after a preliminary review with Patrick Engineering, they found a
“very comprehensive plan” that considers a lot of “costs associated with
decommissioning.” Swift Current Energy made a few minor revisions.
At the workshop, Matt Minder of Patrick Engineering said they reviewed the
decommissioning plan and associated documents including the project map and
Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement to check for compliance. Minder said
the review “indicated the plan was very detailed in terms of describing
decommissioning steps involved.” Patrick Engineering found decommissioning
expenses in line with costs on a “per turbine basis” seen in other Illinois Wind
Farm decommissioning estimates.
Minder said they made a few suggestions on administrative and transportation
cost considerations, total area for restoration, and compensations to landowners
for crop damage, and any costs to rehabilitate or repair roads.
Planning and Zoning Chairman Scott Schaffenacker said lastly, Patrick
Engineering sent some modifications under the summary of recommendations for the
Decommissioning Plan. Their recommendations included doubling the amount for
crop loss with an increase of $166,500 and tripling the amount for road repairs
with an increase of $700,000. They have added turbine laydown and restoration
costs of $154,700 and MET tower removal costs at $20,593. The final change was a
use of a financial insurance mechanism for the decommissioning agreement with a
figure of $1,117,267 for a letter of credit.
Swift Current Energy added in $300,000 for administrative costs for the
decommissioning project, which Birchby said is in line with Patrick
Birchby said Patrick Engineering will revise any deficiencies in their plan.
Swift Current Energy said they would hold to the standards of Patrick
Schaffenacker’s original motion was to take Patrick Engineering’s recommendation
of the review of Swift Current’s Decommissioning Plan proposal and make it the
criteria for satisfying that portion of the conditional use.
Schaffenacker then amended the motion to postpone voting on their
recommendations until next month.
Schaffenacker said he wants to go over a couple bullet points with Patrick
Engineering before next month.
Board member Annette Welch asked if postponing the vote would delay Swift
Current Energy at all.
Birchby said Swift Current Energy is looking to start construction of the
project in April, so the Decommissioning Plan just needs to be in place by then.
Schaffenacker’s amended motion was unanimously approved. The vote on the
Decommissioning Plan will be next month.
The next regular board meeting will Tuesday, March 18, 2018 at 6 p.m.