by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG— The Busch Wind project passed a major hurdle on Wed., Aug. 31, when the county commissioners unanimously approved the preliminary HB 1041 application for the first 16 wind turbines to be built in eastern Huerfano County.
Sixteen conditions were placed on the application, including showing tax benefits to the county, the use of local labor and a decommissioning plan.
According to Black Hills Energy the project will pump about $100,000 in property taxes into Huerfano County per year with a one time $700,000 in sales use permit taxes. The project could possibly put about $1.5 million into the local economy through sub- contracts and potential vendor sales.
The decommission plan was a point of intense discussion during an Aug. 23 meeting of the public hearing phase.
Partners in the project are Black Hills Energy, EUI and Vestas. Black Hills Energy and EUI have a 50-50 split with each party holding 100 percent interest in eight wind turbines each. EUI will develop the project, Black Hills Energy will purchase the energy and Vestas will operate the turbines.
To be built in three phases, the project calls for the first phase goal to be the construction and operation of 16 Vestas built wind turbines by the end of the fourth business quarter of 2012.
When Phase One is in operation, Black Hills Energy will have two full time employees who will be responsible for maintenance on the turbines.