By STAN MADDUX
PERU, Ind. — Plans for a hotly contested Indiana wind farm are reportedly dead following a July 2 vote by the Miami County Commissioners on a setback proposal. The vote allowing the 2,000 foot setback for the proposed 685-foot turbines ended in a tie. This automatically means the setback will take effect on July 10.
Under the new setback, a wind turbine must be at least 2,000 feet from any residence, property line or road or no more than one inside a one-square mile area.
“That just wasn’t practical,” Miami County Commissioner Larry West, who is a supporter of the propsed wind farm.
The previous setback would have only called for 1,000 feet. The Miami County Planning and Building Commission originaly gave preliminary approval to increase the setback in April
The three-member county commission then had the option of voting on the new setback or letting it automatically go into effect 90 days later without taking action.
West called for a vote, and opposed the revised setback while Alan Hunt voted in favor of it. Commissioner Josh Francis was not there but already abstained from voting because of his work for RES, a renewable energy company that wanted to put up 75 turbines in the northern part of the county.
Francis was contracted by RES to develop lease agreements with landowners, officials said.
West became a target of a large, angry crowd for bringing the amended setback up for a vote. He said RES had already backed away from project after its deal to purchase land for connecting into the electric grid fell through.
West said he wanted a vote in the event another company stepped forward with plans for a wind farm.
“The one-thousand foot setback would have killed the project even if the wind company still had their connection point,” West said.
West said the farm would have generated more than $7 million for the county over 11-years and reduced property taxes especially in the four townships where the turbines would have gone up.
“I understand the people who don’t like to look at them and I appreciate their concerns but I was trying to look out for the interests of most people in Miami County and not just the 50 or so who were vigorously opposed,” West said.