|12/19/2018 4:13:00 PM
Blown away: Apex Clean Energy wind project leaves Henry and Rush counties
|Travis Weik, Courier-Times ReporterThe Flat Rock Wind Project is dead in Henry County.Flat Rock Wind was a planned industrial wind farm that called for turbines in southern Henry and northern Rush Counties.
“It’s with a heavy heart that Apex Clean Energy has made the difficult decision to terminate our project in both counties,” Apex Clean Energy Senior Development Manager Erin Baker announced Tuesday.
Baker said it has become increasingly difficult over the last several years to maintain the Flat Rock Wind project timeline due to the lack of certainty regarding local government regulations.
“The resulting delays, combined with capacity constraints on the electrical grid, have made it infeasible for us to continue our investment in the project,” Baker said.
Baker said the Flat Rock Wind project would have provided “nearly $2.5 million in economic development payments, as well as millions of additional dollars in annual property tax payments and landowner lease payments” to Henry County.
According to the announcement, Apex will be releasing Flat Rock Wind landowners from their leases over the next several weeks in order “to free up more resources for our other Indiana wind projects.”
Apex reported Aug. 8, 2014 that they had more than “22,000 acres under lease” in the Flat Rock Wind project area.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise,” Henry County Zoning Administrator Darrin Jacobs said about the Apex announcement. “Their commission approved use was up for renewal in May 2017 and the planning commission denied their renewal.”
The commission-approved use for the Flat Rock Wind project expired May 21, 2017 and the company’s request for an extension was denied July 20, 2017.
“As far as we’ve (the planning commission) been concerned, that project as originally submitted has been dead since that point,” Jacobs said. “I’m assuming at this point that they don’t have any intention to re-submit a new set of plans for a commission approved use. The planning commission hasn’t had contact with Apex since it was denied.”
The Flat Rock Wind project would have been in the southern part of the county. Ed Yanos is the commissioner for that district.
Like Jacobs, Yanos was not surprised to hear the announcement.
“To me, the writing was on the wall for Apex,” Yanos said. “I believe it was probably a forgone conclusion.”
Peg Stefandel, who will represent District 3 on the county council starting in January, was excited to hear the news Tuesday about Apex.
“Hallelujah!” Stefandel said. “For the county itself, I think it’s amazing.”
Stefandel said the southern part of Henry County can look forward to growth now. She expects towns in her district, like Knightstown and Middletown, to see a lot of growth in the next 10 years as progress moves eastward from Indianapolis.
Stefandel pointed to areas like Pendleton, New Palestine and Fortville as predictions of the Henry County’s future.
“We have to be patient and grow with it,” Stefandel said. “The more families and communities we develop, the more businesses will come here.”
Stefandel said people are the first thing that allow growth and people don’t want to live around industrial wind turbines.
“I want people who live here to enjoy living here,” she said.
Stefandel remains concerned about other parts Henry County, however.
She said the energy company Calpine is still looking to develop a wind farm north of U.S. Hwy 36.
Derek Reiman, from Calpine’s Big Blue River Wind Farm, presented “draft form” documents to the Henry County Commissioners in November.
The Henry County Planning Commission agenda for Thursday does not include anything from Calpine.
“There’s nothing to discuss because they haven’t submitted anything,” Jacobs said Tuesday afternoon.