Illinois dead turbines create a headache for county and farmers

In Illinois where Everpower purchased the assets of a bankrupt wind facility, local authorities debated how to handle decommissioning costs.  The debate revolves around whether having the cash up front is best or whether to allow Everpower to simply have a letter of credit.  The Bureau County residents  researched the costs associated with decommissioning and estimate it would be.  “The group of residents had an in-depth study done by a Virginia-based company on decommissioning costs, looking at a specific 87-turbine wind farm, Gerdes said. The total cost to take down 87 turbines was just over $19.4 million, or about $224,000 per turbine. At that rate, the cost to decommission the Big Sky wind farm could be more in the $10 million to $12 million, he said.” 

It was interesting to see the Bureau County State’s Attorney advise that if Everpower was not able to take the turbines down, it would be the responsibility of the leaseholder.  In response to a comment from a local citizen, the Attorney said that “I would think these landowners would start thinking twice but nobody attends these meetings to ask or listen to what could happen to the land in our county.  I guess my question would be to anyone who has a lease, is the $8,000 or $10,000 you get a year worth it when is 10, 15 or 20 years it may cost you, the leaseholder over $250,000 to take it off your own property?  This is so sad that this is all coming out now and not sooner.”…

The county of Bureau is moving into negotiations with the new owners of the Big Sky wind farm, located north of Ohio, to determine just how future decommissioning costs of the Big Sky wind farm will be met.

The Bureau County Board’s decision to go into negotiations followed a lengthy board discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, which also included comments from a concerned resident as well as comments from a representative of the new Big Sky owner, the Pittsburgh-based EverPower Wind Co. The new owner has asked the county board to agree to a letter of credit for the decommissioning plan, rather than keep the current cash-on-hand arrangement….

Bureau County resident Ed Gerdes addressed the board, representing a “big group of us,” who are concerned about the decommissioning plan, specifically the amount of money for the decommissioning plan and how that money would be guaranteed.

The group of residents had an in-depth study done by a Virginia-based company on decommissioning costs, looking at a specific 87-turbine wind farm, Gerdes said. The total cost to take down 87 turbines was just over $19.4 million, or about $224,000 per turbine. At that rate, the cost to decommission the Big Sky wind farm could be more in the $10 million to $12 million, he said.

“Who’s going to pay for the rest?, ” Gerdes asked.” I don’t think the taxpayers should have to pay for taking those down.”

The group’s other concern is that when landowners signed their leases with these companies they were promised the companies would take down the turbines or, if the company was no longer here, the county would have the needed money set aside to take the turbines down, Gerdes said. But Bureau County is not going to have enough money and the landowners might end up with a bill for $150-$200,000 to dispose of the turbines, he said….

via Decommissioning costs still a concern | BCRNews.com.

Is Everpower trying to ‘pull the wool’ over a county’s eyes?

Ohio does not require money in escrow to protect our citizens from a company going bankrupt. Our bonds aren’t even big enough to pay for the cranes which will dismantle the machines, but this county was SMART. Why is Everpower requesting this? Could it be that they plan to leave this area after a short time? Because these foreign companies are given accelerated depreciation and then tax subsidies for the 1st 10 years of production, some companies ‘leave Dodge’ at approximately year 7. Remember, the gearbox warranties typically expire at year 5 and some studies show an actual turbine life of only 10-15 years….Everpower appears to be making exit plans….

When the Big Sky wind farm started a few years ago in Bureau County, it set aside money in escrow, in case the company abandoned the project and the county needed to take down the turbines.

That money was required by the county. The account contains nearly $1.8 million.

Now, the wind farm’s prospective owner wants to do away with the escrow account and go, instead, with a letter of credit, which is a bank-guaranteed promise to pay….

Ever Power has 114 turbines, about evenly split between Bureau and Lee counties, many of which surround the Bureau County village of Ohio.

Deb Anderson, who lives in that area, has long called for more regulation of wind turbines, including tough decommissioning standards.

“A letter of credit is only as good as the paper it’s written on,” Anderson said. “The way the banking industry is right now, what’s to say the bank won’t go belly up?”

Besides, she said, the nearly $1.8 million is nowhere near the amount of money that would be needed to take down the turbines.

Former Franklin Grove Village President Bob Logan, who has researched wind energy issues, agreed.

“Cash escrow means you have the money on hand,” Logan said. “If the [wind] companies go bankrupt, as many of them do, the letters of credit are worthless. Cash escrow is definitely better than a line of credit.”…

via Firm wants requirement loosened in Princeton | SaukValley.com.