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November 14, 2013

Enjem still doubts wind plans|

Re-elected Tuesday as Richfield Town Supervisor, Fran Enjem said Friday that he has serious reservations with an agreement offered by the developers of a planned wind farm project, saying it fails to adequately protect his community.

Enjem’s resistance to the host agreement is one of the two last remaining obstacles facing the Monticello Hills wind farm. The other is a pending court action filed by Protect Richfield, a group of citizens opposed to the project. The opponents are challenging the legal procedures that were used in the granting of the special permit issued by the town.

A hearing on that case is scheduled for later this month in state Supreme Court in Madison County.

“My job now is to hopefully convince the other members of the (town) board to change that host agreement so it protects the town,” Enjem said.

On Election Day, he defeated challenger Nicholas Palevsky, 368 to 255. The latter mounted a write-in campaign against Enjem after being beaten by a whisker in the September GOP primary.

Specifically, Enjem said he wants to see wording in the host agreement that would provide financial protections to property owners whose real estate slips in value after the six-turbine wind farm is constructed.

He also said the wind farm company, Ridgeline Energy of Albany, is only required by the agreement to come up with $30,000 per turbine when it is time to decommission them. He said the actual cost is expected to be far beyond that amount.

“They told us we would be getting the scrap metal,” Enjem said. “But we are not in the scrap metal business. We are a township.”

Owen Grant, the project manager for Ridgeline Energy, said that Enjem is “operating under a misunderstanding,” noting the decommissioning sums were set by an independent engineer.

Grant also said the host agreement was approved by the town board at a meeting in January 2012. The impact of the town supervisor’s continued resistance to signing the host agreement is not immediately clear, Grant said.

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