A new EDP wind farm to be built in southwestern Randolph County will, through the development of new technology, create 50 new wind turbines that generate as much power as the company’s existing 100 turbines, the county board of commissioners heard Monday.
EDP Renewables Project Manager Paul Cummings said the Headwaters II wind farm will be built over the next two years, beginning in July or August of this year.
He said the second stage of the existing wind farm will be online and generating power by Sept. 20, 2020.
“We’re spreading it out over two years to help minimize risk,” Cummings said. “The 50 new turbines will generate as much power as the current 100 turbines EDP has in the county now. The towers will be slightly taller.”
In a discussion of the zoning and legal permitting process for the new towers, County Attorney Meeks Cockerill said he wouldn’t want to deviate much from what has been done in the past because that approach has been successful.
Cummings agreed. He said EDP will request a tax abatement on the wind farm, as well as for a proposed new solar farm.
Cummings said EDP will begin work on a solar farm in Randolph County in 2020 which is due to be completed in 2022.
“We have a great relationship with county officials,” he said. “We look forward to moving forward with these projects.”
County Economic Development Director Greg Beumer, in his end-of-the-year wrap-up for 2018, said the county economic development corporation had another very good year.
“The economic development corporation voted early in the year to keep our Work One office open so people receiving employment assistance don’t have to travel to Richmond or Muncie,” Beumer said.
Beumer said the Randolph Economic Development Corporation (REDC) board officially endorsed the expansion of all forms of renewable energy in Randolph County. He also noted that the county commissioners provided financial support for the advanced manufacturing program at Winchester Community High School and the KISS-TV program at Union City High School. The county has also supported local robotics and DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) programs.
The county economic development board also supported (in partnership with the City of Winchester) obtaining Gold Certification for Vision Industrial Park. The state-sponsored certification program helps advertise available industrial sites to industry, listed by their move-in readiness.
Beumer said that in 2018, Union City attracted two new industries: Consolidated Metals which employs 15 people; and Road Builders which employs seven. Union City also received $9.6 million in tax credits for the Backstay Building renovation.
He said REDC is partnering with Ball State University economist Michael Hicks to implement a new approach to grow the local economy. A presentation outlining the Cultivating Communities program is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Towne Square Business Centre, downtown Winchester.
The economic development corporation, in the coming year, will work to address healthcare, education, leadership development and housing needs within the county.
“I think you’re moving in the right direction and have made great strides in the past year,” said Commissioner Gary Girton.
Beumer said the REDC is working very hard to coordinate the efforts of all the county’s school corporations.
The commissioners approved reappointing Jim Wooters to the Randolph County Airport Board for the new year. Wooters was appointed to the board last year by the commissioners to replace a long-standing board member who resigned.
Commissioner Tom Chalfant made a motion to replace existing airport board members Dale Moore and Linda Wilcox with John DeVoss and Greg Sickels respectively. Chalfant said the reason for the proposed changes is “budget issues.”
Chalfant said the county is having budget issues with the airport regarding comp time payout and attorney fees. He did not explain how replacing board members (one of whom he appointed several years ago) will resolve budget issues.
Commissioner Gary Girton said Chalfant’s recommendation makes sense to him, but that he’d like more time to look at it and to think about the matter. The recommendation will be addressed at an upcoming commissioners’ meeting.
An airport board supporter at Monday’s meeting said this decision, if acted upon, will effectively kill the airport board.
The airport, this past year, brought in near record revenues.
County Health Department board representative Mindy Winningham said the department has a job opening for a new health department coordinator/department head and is working to create a new job description for the position. She will return in two weeks to submit to the commissioners a revised job description for the position.
She said the job opening is posted publicly for applications with the job description to be given at job interviews.
Cockerill approved Winningham’s suggestion.