The Delaware County board of supervisors recently approved a siting change related to more industrial wind turbines being built in Delaware County. We request a moratorium on all wind projects until public hearings take place so the public better understands how they will impact community health, the economic risks to taxpayers and the effect on Delaware County birds and bats.
The economic environment surrounding the companies who are putting these turbines in our county is troubling. The parent companies of wind development have set up limited liability companies (LLCs) to do their wind development business and shield their parent companies from liability exposure. Research by American University concluded 84 percent of all wind development companies are foreign-owned.
Kurtis Sherer from Mason Wind, LLC, is listed as the registered agent for HZ Iowa LLC, which is the Iowa unit of Chinese turbine manufacturer China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) HaiZhuang (HZ) Windpower. Sherer’s LinkedIn profile lists him as VP for Project Development of HZ Windpower U.S.A. HZ Windpower’s parent company, CSIC, was formed by the government of the People’s Republic of China in 1999, based out of Beijing, owned and directly supervised by the Chinese central government. It employs 300,000 and consists of 96 enterprises, including production of military weapon platforms. Warren Buffet said federal tax policies are the only reason to build wind farms in the U.S. What happens to wind farms after the federal policies change and the tax credits go away? How much tax help is Delaware County providing to the foreign-owned wind companies?
There are currently 5,000-14,000 abandoned wind turbines in America (depending on which study you believe). When the wind companies fold, as limited liability companies, they could be off the hook for tearing down the turbines. Removal is not easy, nor is it cheap. According to independent decommissioning studies published by the consulting firm Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA), on Jan. 6, 2015 for the Pleasant Wind Project in Livingstone County, Ill., the cost to decommission, after accounting for scrap metal, is $185,000-233,000 per turbine. In same study, EVA consulting criticized an estimate by wind development company (Stantec) as “…severely understat[ing] the total net decommissioning costs and overstat[ing] the potential revenues from salvageable materials for the project.” Stantec told landowners they could decommission for $36,000 per turbine.
What type of deconstruction estimates have the wind developers in Delaware County provided to leaseholders? Did they provide the same misleading quotes to Delaware County leaseholders? If so, can we trust these companies? Most counties with ordinances require owners to remove non-functioning turbines or be assessed the cost of removal. Delaware County’s Ordinance 32 requires developers to have a decommissioning plan. It says the county has the right to verify that adequate terms are listed in the landowner’s easement, but it is unclear if anyone from the county has actually verified these terms. Do landowners with turbines or considering turbines understand the full cost for removal? Two hundred thousand in today’s dollars will likely be well over $300,000 in 15 years. Who pays if the landowner does not have the funds? Will this be a tax burden put on Delaware County citizens?