ANDERSON — When the Wildcat Wind Farm was constructed in Madison and Tipton counties, E-on Climate & Renewables agreed to provide a $1.2 million donation for economic development.
Construction work on the placement of the 125 wind turbines, which extend from Windfall to Elwood, was completed in 2012.
Tipton and Madison counties have taken different directions on how to use those funds, which were intended to compensate for lost economic development opportunities in the areas where the wind turbines are located.
The economic development donation from E-on has now grown to $1,362,970 in Madison County, and there are no current plans to distribute the funds.
In comparison, Tipton County has distributed the entire $1.2 million to local units of government, school systems and not-for profit organizations.
The Tipton County commissioners took applications for the distribution of the funds and then awarded grants.
John Richwine, president of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners, has indicated he believes the wind farm economic development funds should be designated for use in the northern portion of the county, where the turbines are located.
“We have no direct plans for the money,” Richwine said. “I believe the economic impact fund should be for northern Madison County. The commissioners felt it should do something in the northern part of the county.”
Richwine said the hope is that there will be several projects in the northern part of the county that would benefit from the funding.
“The economic impact was in the northern part of the county,” he said. “Hopefully we will get some type of business moving in like Poet (ethanol plant) in Alexandria or an expansion of Red Gold.”
Richwine said no local community has requested money from the fund.
“We would consider any proposal,” he said.
RIchwine said interest earned from the $1.2 million could be used for smaller projects in other portions of the county, possibly funding a portion of a new comprehensive plan for Madison County.
“The money could sit there for 10 years,” he said. “We want to see a large impact for the northern portion of Madison County.
“We want to make sure it gets spent on something of value for the county,” Richwine said. “Use those funds to benefit the county.”
Elwood Mayor Todd Jones said he met with representatives from the Madison County Council of Governments about how to apply for the funding.
Jones said the city is prioritizing a list of projects to present to the commissioners.
“We want the most bang for our buck from the dollars we receive,” he said. “We’re looking at infrastructure improvements to make some of our sites shovel ready.
“We want the most benefit from the available dollars,” Jones said. “We’re grateful the wind farms are here.”
Alexandria Mayor Ron Richardson, who took office on Jan. 1, was not aware that there was $1.2 million set aside for the northern part of the county.
“We’re looking to improve our curb appeal, which includes the downtown area,” Richardson said. “Like most communities, we’re short of money.”
He said he would meet with the city’s economic development director and members of the Alexandria City Council to develop a plan to determine the best way to use any money from the county.
“We would establish priorities,” Richardson said.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.