Landowners share concerns about Delaware County wind farm plan

GREELEY, Iowa — Questions about a proposed repowering of a 17-turbine wind farm between Edgewood and Greeley brought landowners to the Delaware County Board of Supervisors meeting this week to share concerns.

Built nine years ago by RPM Access, Elk Wind Farm was sold earlier this year to Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co. A representative from the latter company last month told the county supervisors about its plan to repower all 17 turbines at a cost of $40 million to $45 million.

Attendees who spoke at the supervisors meeting this week shared concerns ranging from a lack of information from the company to compaction of farm ground due to heavy equipment moving across fields to access the turbines.

Theresa Beswick said the first time she heard about the proposed upgrades to the wind farm was when she read about the plans in the newspaper.

“We had a great working relationship with the prior company,” she told the supervisors. “They were great to work with the landowners. We would like that to continue with the next one.”

At the November meeting, supervisors had expressed their concerns to a Greenbacker representative that landowners needed to be kept informed of upgrade plans.

Beswick said to date, landowners only have received an introductory letter from a company representative.

“By not coming to the landowners first and coming directly to the supervisors, it raises a red flag with us,” she said. “Why wouldn’t they be upfront with the landowners to say this is what they plan on doing? At this juncture, I would not be for supporting a variance for them until we have some more answers as landowners.”

Greenbacker also is requesting adding 25 years to the lifetime of lease agreements, extending them until 2066.

Kevin Klosterman told the supervisors he was wary of the extension.

“Their proposal is out a long time,” he said. “That would really be locking our next generation of farmers and young people on the farm into not-a-very-good situation.”

Klosterman also told supervisors that his family has had very little information on the project.

“If there are issues, I wouldn’t even know who to call right now,” he said.

Bob Phillip said when the original turbines went up nine years ago, he allowed heavy machinery to cut across his field.

“I told them they could go ahead and do it,” he said. “But it compacted so bad that we can still see the effects in our beans with a drone. It hasn’t come out of it yet. I don’t know if I will let them go across again. I think they have to talk with us to let us know what is going on so we can decide if we are in favor of this or not.”

Supervisor Shirley Helmrichs told attendees that the supervisors have more questions for Greenbacker representatives.

“We did ask a lot of questions of them when they came,” she said. “They responded a little bit but haven’t answered all our questions yet.”

Greenbacker representatives are expected to attend the supervisors meeting on Monday, Dec. 21, to discuss their proposal.

Following the recent meeting, Supervisors Chairman Jeff Madlom said he has concerns about how Greenbacker is communicating with affected landowners.

Greenbacker has indicated it wishes to begin the project in the spring. Madlom said much has to happen before supervisors approve that time table.

“This company has a lot of work to do yet,” he said. “We won’t do anything until the landowners and residents of Delaware County are comfortable moving forward with this company addressing their issues.”