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Tippecanoe County wind farm rules gain approval after fee adjustment April 8, 2010

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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By MAX SHOWALTER • mshowalter@jconline.com
• April 6, 2010

With some accommodations made for smaller, household turbines, Tippecanoe County opened the door Monday to industrial wind farms reportedly ready to be planted around Greater Lafayette.

Changes made to a pair of ordinances that deal with fees and requirements for wind energy turbines received unanimous approval on its final reading Monday from the county commissioners.

The amendments went a long way toward meeting concerns expressed by people who want to put  small, personal wind turbines on their properties.

A fee to install micro wind energy conversion systems remains at $100. But the amended version of the ordinance eliminated payment of an additional, $50 annual fee and an inspection fee.

“This board actually has been a real team player,” said Cris Post, who has a small wind turbine on his property south of Lafayette and has started a company that sells the devices to homeowners.

Post said the initial $100 fee “is not reasonable,” and lowering it would lessen the payback time for people using the small turbines to convert energy for their personal use. But he was unable to convince the commissioners to change it.

The majority of complaints Monday centered around a County Code requirement for commercial wind farms that turbines be at least 1,000 feet from the property line of nonparticipating land owners.

“We’re asking for some respect — a half-mile buffer from a house or property line,” said Kenny Byers, who lives in the West Point area, where a 125-turbine wind farm development has been discussed.

Robert Brooks, who lives in southern Tippecanoe County, also argued that a 1,000-foot setback is not enough.

“I don’t like to think my family’s health can be affected. Let’s work together to find a solution that makes everybody happy,” he said. “If I get sick I can’t sell my house. I bought this home nine months ago. I didn’t know anything about this. These things (would) just tower over us.”

The amended ordinance does change the sound levels that would be allowed for commercial wind turbines — reducing it from 50 decibels to 45 decibels.

“I’m hoping the noise we hope to have on turbines (that) we hope to have on our property drowns out the noise of trucks going by,” said Patricia Howey, a West Point resident. “Wind turbines are really good for the county. They’re good for employment and good for the environment.”

County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said he was satisfied with the new rules. “We received a lot of great input,” Murtaugh said. “I think we have something we can move forward with.”

County Commissioner David Byers said a couple of the companies considering Tippecanoe County for wind farms are comfortable with the ordinances that have been created. And further changes are possible.

“If they need tweaked,” Byers said, “we can tweak them.”

Wind energy fees

Under Tippecanoe County’s new wind energy rules, here are the fees for wind farms and turbines:
• Owners of commercial and noncommercial large turbines will be charged a $2,500 flat fee, plus $200 per tower when the turbines are constructed. There also will be an annual operational fee of $1,250, plus $100 per tower.
• Owners of smaller, micro turbines would be charged $100 when the tower goes up. There would be no annual operational fee.

File downloads

                               Tippecanoe County wind energy ordinance



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