- Who is Apex
- What is the project’s size and scope?
- What is wind power?
- Why here?
- How will the wind farm change the existing rural landscape?
- Where will the power from Flat Rock Wind go?
- Will Apex sell the wind farm once it is constructed?
- When will the community be able to see a draft of the turbine layout?
- Will Flat Rock Wind raise my electric bill?
- What economic impacts will the project make locally?
- Will the federal government subsidize the project?
- Will the project affect my property values?
- If something were to happen to Apex, would the wind farm be abandoned? What about once the wind farm reaches the end of its useful life?
- What does a wind farm sound like?
- What is low-frequency sound, and how will it affect the community?
- What is shadow flicker?
- Will the turbines have lights that are visible at night?
- How will the wind farm impact local deer populations and hunting?
- Will the wind farm be harmful to birds and bats?
Apex Clean Energy is an independent renewable energy company based in Charlottesville, Virginia. We develop, construct, own, and operate wind and solar energy facilities across the country. Our team has completed 1,600 MW of projects that are now operating.
We anticipate total project capacity will be up to 180 MW, enough energy to power up to 80,000 homes annually. Project development takes several years, and we hope to begin construction in 2017.
The modern turbines planned for this project, at their tallest point, have a ground-to-blade tip height of roughly 500 feet. We expect the project will consist of up to 75 to 90 turbines, spaced approximately ¼- to ½-mile apart on active farmland. Each turbine will produce enough power for roughly 950 homes depending on the number of turbines used.
Wind power captures the natural wind in our atmosphere and converts it into mechanical energy then electricity. People started using wind power centuries ago with windmills, which pumped water, ground grain, and did other work. Today's wind turbine is a highly evolved version of a windmill. Modern wind turbines harness wind's kinetic energy and convert it into electricity. Most wind turbines have three blades and sit atop a steel tubular tower, and they range in size from 80-foot-tall turbines that can power a single home to utility-scale turbines that are over 260 feet tall and power hundreds of homes.
Flat Rock Wind is proposed to be located in southern Henry and northern Rush Counties in Indiana. Roughly 28,000 acres of open farmland will host the project. The area provides a strong wind resource while avoiding environmentally sensitive areas. In addition, existing infrastructure reduces the need to construct new roads and power lines.
Wind turbines are certainly tall, but many people appreciate their presence on the landscape. On average, the footprint of wind facilities occupies less than 2% of the total land leased, with each wind turbine typically requiring less than half an acre of land.
The need for other new infrastructure for the project is quite limited due to the existing high-voltage power lines and highways in Van Wert County. We intend to bury the large majority of power lines, which connect turbines to the project substation underground, keeping them out of sight and from having any impact on farming operations.
The construction of a wind farm in Van Wert County will help maintain agricultural land and open space by providing new economic stability to local farmers. Wind turbines complement working farms, because they allow for existing agricultural operations to continue around them.
Although at this stage of development we have not identified a buyer for the power produced by the Flat Rock Wind project, we do know that this power will be injected into the regional grid system.
The American Wind Energy Association has compared the regional grid system to an ATM:
“Say you deposit $20 in the ATM near your office. A short time later, you withdraw it from the ATM near your house. You now have a different bill than the one you deposited, but that’s irrelevant; you still have $20.
This aspect of the banking system is analogous to how the electric power system works: it aggregates all sources of electricity supply and demand over a large geographic area, allowing one to add wind energy in one area and use an equivalent amount of electricity somewhere else on the grid.”
We do not yet know the answer to this question. Apex is a growing company of over 200 individuals with the capacity to excel in every phase of project realization, from site origination and financing to construction and asset management. We look forward to adding facility ownership to this set of attributes, and by the time Flat Rock Wind is built, we may be ready to do so.
That said, the sale of a project to another entity should create no cause for concern. Every agreement and contract signed by the project prior to any potential transfer of ownership will remain in place if a transfer takes place. Commitments to landowners, local governments, and the state of Indiana will remain in place and fully enforceable under the law.
It is customary for wind projects to undergo many layouts prior to finalization in order to ensure that the project adheres to all regulations, minimizes potential impacts to the surrounding area, and optimizes the energy production. Layouts are generally solidified in the very late-stage in a project life cycle, and they are first shared with the participating landowners to confirm that they have no issues with the project plan for their particular properties. County-specific wind ordinances can have a large impact on the project design by setting setback and other requirements, and the existing Henry County wind ordinance is currently under review by a committee and may change. It is unknown how long this review process will take.
Flat Rock Wind is a privately funded energy project. No federal subsidies or ratepayer dollars will be used to build Flat Rock Wind, and once built, the project will provide a long-term competitive source of electricity for the state’s utility grid.
Indiana is part of the PJM regional transmission organization, a wholesale power market encompassing all or part of 13 states. The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association posted a helpful blog article comparing purchasing electricity from the PJM grid to shopping at a grocery store:
“When you buy your groceries, you probably go to the local grocery store. Think of your electricity supplier like your grocery store: it doesn’t grow its own food or have its own food processing plants, rather it buys the groceries that it sells to you from wholesale food suppliers.”
The electricity market works similarly, with proximity of power plants neither positively nor adversely affecting electricity rates. The community does, however, benefit from the jobs, taxes, and lease payments generated by a local wind farm over the long term.
Flat Rock Wind will be a significant economic development project in Indiana, with the potential of injecting up to $300 million in private investment in the region. Apex Clean Energy estimates that Flat Rock Wind will deliver approximately $18 million in new property tax revenue over the life of the project. Landowners participating in the project will receive roughly $20 million during this same time. Another $2.4 million in payments will go to the local schools. The new tax revenues will make additional funding available for local government, schools, and emergency services in both counties.
Furthermore, Flat Rock Wind will create and sustain jobs. In the near term, local construction jobs and local purchasing of materials and services will boost the local economy, while in the long term the project will create up to 10 full-time local jobs for turbine operations and maintenance.
Flat Rock Wind will be developed purely with private capital. The federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy only kicks in after construction, much like a homeowner tax deduction is only applied after a home’s purchase. Just as the size of the homeowner deduction is proportional to the amount of mortgage interest paid that year, the IRS ties the PTC directly to the amount of energy verifiably produced by the project, and this credit is only available during the first 10 years of a project’s life.
All forms of energy are subsidized in some fashion. The PTC is a net economic benefit. Since 2008, the United States has seen over $100 billion in wind energy investment that continues to boost local, state, and federal tax revenues in excess of the PTC’s cost.
At the end of December 2015, Congress extended the PTC for five years, with a phase-down for wind energy. The phase-down means that each year, starting in 2017, the tax credit will decrease by 20%. This policy ensures stability and reliability throughout the wind industry for production.
The latest and most robust studies on property value impacts show that wind farms do not have long-term negative effects on property values. Furthermore, the majority of studies have found no conclusive evidence of any negative impact. On the other hand, it is well documented that wind farms drive community economic development and provide funding for local schools and services, which may attract property owners to a hosting community.
A major independent study on this topic, released in August 2013 by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, analyzed more than 50,000 home sales near 67 wind facilities in 27 counties across nine U.S. states and was unable to uncover any impacts to nearby residential property values. Read the study here.
If something were to happen to Apex, would the wind farm be abandoned? What about once the wind farm reaches the end of its useful life?
After 25-30 years, every wind project will be assessed to determine if turbines should be "repowered", upgraded, or dismantled. In many projects, decommissioning agreements ensure that funds are available for dismantling and removing turbines if that is determined to be the most appropriate path to take. When turbines are removed, they are removed from the surface of the land entirely. Agricultural uses can continue unimpeded, and no remnants of turbine structures are visible.
As wind turbine blades pass through the air, they make a sound that is often described as a “whoosh.” Measurements of this sound show that it is no louder than a kitchen refrigerator or a standard air conditioning unit at a distance of 1,000 feet.
The project will comply with the Rush and Henry County wind ordinance requirements related to noise limitations at residences.
Inaudible low-frequency sound, or “infrasound,” produced by turbines is qualitatively no different than that which is generated by waves crashing on the beach or the sound of your own heart beating. Scientific evidence confirms this sound is not dangerous, and that any low-frequency waves produced are not harmful to those nearby.
As reported in a recent study by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
“…the weight of the evidence suggests no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.”
“Shadow flicker” refers to the shadows cast by wind turbine blades as they rotate in front of the sun, similar to the shadow cast by a tree blowing in the wind. Very few homes in a project will experience shadowing, and most often no home experiences this effect for more than a few minutes per day, on average. During cloudy days, shadow flicker does not occur. The project will comply with the Rush and Henry County wind ordinance requirements related to shadow flicker at residences.
Some worry that this flicker can cause seizures in photosensitive individuals. However, according to the Epilepsy Foundation’s research, the rate at which wind turbine shadows “flicker” is far below the frequency associated with seizures.
Wind farms are required by law to mark their projects by lighting turbines to make them visible to airplanes. Flat Rock Wind will employ the minimum amount of standard, nighttime, red safety lights, that will shine upward as required by the Federal Aviation Administration. There will be no strobe lights attached to the wind turbines.
The operating wind farm will have no impact on the deer population or hunting. Just as deer adapt to construction of new homes, buildings, and other new sights and sounds near their habitats, the deer population also becomes accustomed to wind farms. It is not uncommon to find deer and other wildlife feeding or resting near the bases of turbines. Cattle, horses, goats, and other livestock are also 100% compatible with wind energy technology.
Despite claims to the contrary, wind energy projects are far from the most dangerous human-caused threat to birds and bats.
Buildings, cars, power lines, and radio and cell phone towers cause far more losses than wind turbines. Housecats kill 2.4 billion birds a year alone.
Nonetheless, Apex works hard to minimize avian impacts through responsible siting. We are working in close consultation with federal and state environmental agencies and using appropriate conservation measures to ensure that Flat Rock Wind has no significant effects on bird or bat populations.