Police Jury hears wind farm concerns
Mack Atteberry is worried that thousands of acres of farm land in Acadia Parish could be taken out of production if a proposed wind farm is allowed to operate here.
Atteberry, a rice farmer in Acadia, told members of the parish Police Jury Tuesday night that Apex Clean Energy, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based company has been acquiring property in the parish and plans to construct “humongous” wind turbines.
“Each blade on these turbines is 150 feet long and they’re mounted on a 450-foot tower,” Atteberry said, adding that the base of the tower is about 300 feet in diameter.
“A lot of people are concerned about agriculture,” he said. “The problem is, these people (Apex) don’t understand rice farming. Once the rice field is flooded, you can’t get equipment in and out to maintain these towers.”
He said the magnitude of the turbines also poses a problem for ag aviation, explaining that the Louisiana association dealing with agriculture aviators is recommending that pilots stay at least one mile away from the turbines.
“That’s 4 square miles (per tower) that can’t be treated if there’s an infestation,” he said.
According to Atteberry, the land acquisition is being handled by a Lafayette-based company and landowners are being offered a base of $10,500 a year if they agree to place a tower on their property.
“I understand they already have about 2,600 acres signed up,” he said.
According to their website, Apex Clean Energy has a project targeted in Acadia Parish — Acadian Wind — with a completion date set for 2019.
The project is estimated to produce 250 megawatts of energy, enough to power 68,000 homes.
Jurors listened to Atteberry but could take no action to stop or slow the company’s actions.
“We don’t have any kind of zoning ordinance for (rural areas of) the parish,” said President David Savoy.
In other business, the jury sat as the board of review for the 2016 property assessments.
Parish Assessor James “Jimbo” Petitjean presented a detailed report comparing figures from the last four years, pointing out that this is the first time since he’s taken office that there are no appeals to the assessments.
Though final figures have not yet been certified by the state Legislative Auditor due to problems caused by the August flood, Petitjean said the total assessed value of property in Acadia Parish is $385,253,414, down from $385 million last year.
“The dip is partly due to Bayou Cove selling one-quarter of its assets to the city of Alexandria and we cannot tax a municipality,” Petitjean said. “Plus, our oil rig count is down by half, from 12 to six.”
The assessor pointed out that more than 100 separate taxing bodies collect property millages across Acadia Parish.
In other action, the police jury:
• Approved a resolution setting an election in Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1.
• Approved a resolution setting an election in the Second Ward Gravity Drainage District No. 1.
• Reappointed Cynthia Dominick and Julia Lacombe to the Acadia Parish Library Board of Control.
• Approved advertising for bids for repairs to the Cooperative Extension / USDA offices.