Wind park moving ahead

sPower is moving ahead with plans to install a 27-turbine wind park north of Monticello. sPower officials state that construction is set to begin this month (July), with at least partial completion of the estimated $136 million project by the end of 2015.
The massive turbines in the wind park will be located primarily on three ridges immediately north and west of Monticello. The project was initially developed by Wasatch Wind and was recently purchased by sPower.
sPower officials estimate that the project will pay between $10 and $15 million in property taxes over the 20-year life of the project. Power will be sold to Rocky Mountain Power under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
sPower is scheduling a job fair later in the month as they anticipate hiring up to 100 workers for the construction phase of the project. Company officials state that they hope to hire up to 50 percent of the workers from the local area.
While sPower is moving ahead with the project, which has been in the planning phase for nearly a decade, a group of local landowners is trying to slow down the project.
The Northern Monticello Alliance (NMA) is a landowner association made up primarily of the 17 owners of an 80-acre parcel of land in the middle of the wind farm property.
The landowners seek to slow the project or have sPower buy their properties. In 2012, they filed an appeal of a Conditional Use Permit granted to the project by San Juan County in 2012.
sPower officials state that prior wind park developers have worked with the landowners, but they were unable to agree on a fair price.
The landowners counter that they have not been appropriately notified of the project and simply seek to protect their investments and the health, safety and general welfare of the area and community.
The property was initially purchased in 1999 from the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) for approximately $1,000 an acre. There are now 17 owners in the 80-acre parcel. Individual portions range from five to ten acres. The landowners are primarily out-of-town residents, including two former employees of Wasatch Wind.
A prior appeal of the Conditional Use Agreement was withdrawn in 2013 when Wasatch Wind offered a purchase option to the landowners. The option expired in February, 2015.

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