Three energy companies look at putting wind turbines in Tipton County

Steve Edson, executive director of the Tipton Plan Commission, said Tuesday energy companies AES Corp., Great Lakes Energy and E.ON Climate & Renewables are looking at leasing farm land in the county.

The commission has drafted a wind farm amendment to a zoning ordinance. It would elaborate on wind farm regulations that the county passed in 2008.

The amendment would better accommodate the companies and protect residents from potential nuisances caused by the wind towers, Edson said during the Tipton County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The ordinance would prohibit the companies from building wind turbines within 1,000 feet of residences and 1,500 feet from incorporated areas, he said.

The plan commission hastily created the 2008 wind power ordinance to keep up with other counties. But with companies considering the county more seriously, the commission wanted to make sure it was ready, Edson said.

"We want to be ahead of the curve," he said. "… I just didn’t want to be caught with the applications coming in and not have an ordinance."

The commission will have a hearing to discuss the ordinance at 7 p.m. Thursday in the second-floor meeting room of the Tipton County Courthouse. The power companies have begun contacting property owners around the county about leasing land, Edson said.

AES, based in Arlington, Va., is considering building in an area that would stretch along the Tipton-Clinton county line, he said. Great Lakes, headquartered in Boyne City, Mich., is looking at the northwest corner of Tipton County.

E.ON, which has its North American corporate office in Chicago, plans to move into the northeast corner of the county, he said.
He did not have figures readily available for how many wind towers would come to the county if the companies choose to build.

A typical wind farm produces 100 to 200 megawatts, renewable energy expert Chad Martin said in September. Wind energy companies usually lease farmland for $5,000 to $10,000 for every 1.5 megawatts generated, he said.

That means a 200-megawatt farm could generate up to about $1.3 million in lease payments. Howard County passed a similar wind energy ordinance in January. Horizon Wind Energy, headquartered in Houston, has been considering building on 10,000 to 15,000 acres east of Greentown.

Daniel Human is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer.