County officials have axed plans to install a large wind farm near Kokomo. At a special meeting Thursday night, Howard County commissioners announced the termination of the county’s agreement with international energy company E.On Climate & Renewables. The agreement would have allowed the company to add additional farms to the Wildcat Wind farm. Existing farms in Madison and Tipton Counties were completed in 2012.
Board of Commissioners President Paul Wyman characterizes the agreement as “amicable” and says that ultimately, the decision to part ways came down to two factors: dissent from county residents and changes in the energy marketplace.
“Through a lot of dialog and negotiations with E.On over the last six to seven month and looking at market conditions, I think both parties just felt it was probably time to go our separate ways,” he says.
Board member Tyler Moore says he suspects those market conditions relate to declining demand for energy supplied by wind farms.
“Part of it is getting the power they would generate from a project quote-unquote-sold, so that possibly came into play,” he said.
A representative from E.On could not be reached for comment.
Additionally, the board urged the plan commission to consider updating its wind ordinance, a measure Wyman says was prompted by feedback from concerned residents. The amendment would set more restrictive standards for wind power development and require all future wind farms to secure special-use permits.
Wyman says the new standards would include “safe distances for setbacks for wind turbines from residential properties and safe noise decibel levels, those sorts of things.”
“We’re going to look at those and make sure we put a set of modern standards in place that we think would create a safe environment,” he says.
Howard County resident Lilah Gilliland was one of many of the wind farm’s many opponents at the Thursday meeting. She said the announcement came as a surprise to both her and many others in attendance.
“When the announcement was made, it was very, very emotional,” she said. “You could feel the tension in the room, and at the same minute everyone exhaled and was just so relieved when we heard they were canceling the contract.”