Tri-county wind farm project fails

January 16, 2013

• Boone County wind farm project questionable, too

By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher

The Spanish subsidiary, Gamesa Energy USA, LLC silenced its Whispering Prairie Wind Farm Project in Stephenson, Ogle and Winnebago counties.

The following letter was obtained by The Rock River Times:

November 13, 2012

(Addressee redacted)

RE: Termination of Option Agreement, Lease and Easement Agreement dated 03/03/2009 (the “Agreement”)

Dear ( Addressee redacted)

Thank you for joining with Gamesa Energy USA, LLC, in exploring the possibility of developing the Whispering Prairie Wind Farm Project in Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties, Illinois.

Based on extensive analysis, we have concluded that a wind farm project is not commercially viable. As a result, we have made the decision not to move forward with the project.

Please accept this letter as formal notification under the Agreement terminating the lease option affecting your land as of the date of this letter. This termination releases both you and Gamesa Energy USA, LLC from any further obligation or liability to the other. We will be filing appropriate notices in the local county records clearing the option from the title to your property.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Thank you once again for your support of the project.

Sincerely,

Jenna Johnson Brouwer

Land Department

Gamesa Energy USA, LLC …

After the letter was read to him, Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen said, “I received note on it awhile ago. I also heard from Cathy Ward [Boone County Board Member R-2] it’s probably not going anywhere in Boone County either.

I have mixed feelings on it. It was a tremendous amount of development. But their numbers are their numbers. It could have been tax incentives, costs, a number of things,” Christiansen concluded, adding he was continuing with the county project to refurbish three smaller 90-foot-high turbines from Denmark. The Gamesa industrial turbines and blades were 400 feet tall, and possibly larger.

Gamesa was not available for comment at press time.

Part of the political teetering as this year started, the federal Renewable Electricity Property Wind Production Tax Credit was extended for only one year in the Fiscal Cliff deal. Supporters wanted a four- to five-year extension, arguing jobs would be lost, and opponents argued the 20-year-old industry cannot stand on its own and is a short and long-term loss for taxpayers, with the resulting jobs too few in number to be worth the tax investment.

Last year, citing uncertainties in federal tax polices, Gamesa canceled a 60MW Shaffer Mountain wind project in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and laid off 160 workers in its turbine manufacturing plant in Cambria Township, Pennsylvainia.

Controversy over the Shaffer Mountain’s flyway for eagles, hawks and the endangered Indiana bat, as well as a quality trout stream also figured into Gamesa’s decisions, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

According to a May 7 online article by renewableenergyworld.com, Gamesa has also canceled a project in the lower Chesapeake Bay, “ a ‘wet steel’ landmark single prototype project …”

An example of many wind opponents’ arguments that the company an individual or county signs a contract with can quickly change was displayed in a rechargenews.com article, “Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. says its renewable power generation subsidiary has completed acquisition of 60% interest in both the 200MW Minonk Wind Project in Illinois and 150MW Senate Wind Project in Texas from Gamesa,” in December 2012.

The Sauk Valley Newspapers initially reported Gamesa cancellations in Boone, Winnebago and Ogle counties, and noted an “Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power” wind farm proposal for Whiteside, Bureau and Lee counties had been approved by Whiteside, rejected by a zoning committee in Bureau and that hearings are under way in Lee County.

Hinshaw & Culbertson attorney Richard S. Porter, counsel in several anti-wind lawsuits, also confirmed via e-mail the Gamesa contract cancellations in Ogle County.

According to uk.finance.yahoo.com, Gamesa has traded from 1.00 to 3.33 euros in the last 52 weeks, with current value of 2.00 euros.

Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA (GAM) is Spain’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, which replaced Chief Executive Officer Jorge Calvet with Ignacio Martin, after the company’s market plunge last year, and the company has shown some recovery.

For more about the Boone County wind farm controversy, see the guest column by The Concerned Citizens of Boone County.

From the Jan. 16-22, 2013, issue

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