Welcome to Indiana Wind Watch
"Destruction of our natural heritage masquerades as the pursuit of green energy." Helen Douglas
Citizens Requesting a Protective Wind Ordinance in these Counties:
Bans on Industrial Wind Turbines or Protective Ordinances:
Renewable Energy Systems withdraws from Harvest Wind project! Congratulations, Cass County Property Rights on this huge win! This committed group of citizens has successfully fought off a multi-national company in a truly David and Goliath battle for the protection of their county and homes.
Company no longer pursuing wind turbines in Cass, Miami countiesPharos-Tribune
Mitchell Kirk, reporter Sep 18, 2018
An international renewable energy company is no longer considering bringing wind turbines to northern Cass County.
Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, which has a U.S. headquarters in Broomfield, Colorado, was behind the Harvest Wind Energy project. It aimed to bring a 600-megawatt wind generation development to Cass and Miami counties.
RES stated in a media announcement Tuesday that it is no longer pursuing the project and that it will take action to accomplish the withdrawal immediately.
“Technical circumstances for the project have changed unfavorably, making the project no longer feasible,” according to the statement.
Scott Jansen, RES project manager, commented on the withdrawal in the announcement.
“After a careful review of several factors, RES has decided to withdraw from the Harvest Wind project,” Jansen said. “We have enjoyed working with the local communities in Cass and Miami counties and want to thank all the landowners, farmers and supporters of the Harvest Wind project.”
Cass County Commissioners President Jim Sailors by phone on Tuesday attributed the cancellation to the project’s opponents.
“So what people have effectively done is stopped $90 million in payments to people in the community,” Sailors said, referring to the funds participating landowners were estimated to make for leasing property to RES for the turbines.
The proposed project has been a contentious issue in Cass County for about the past year.
“They’ve stopped the project,” Sailors said, referring to the opponents. “It’s what they wanted to do. The community is just going to have to struggle along the way it is.”
One of the opponents, Lora Redweik, Twelve Mile, called the announcement “fabulous news” by phone Tuesday.
“That gives us some relief but we still feel like we have a lot more work to do,” she said.
Redweik and other Cass County residents are urging county officials to change local wind energy rules. They disagree with setbacks being measured to residences, as it could prevent property owners from building on their own land if too close to a neighboring turbine. A lawsuit calling that rule unconstitutional is currently being contested in Cass County Circuit Court.
Residents have also advocated for setbacks of 2,640 feet from nonparticipating property lines, saying that distance is necessary to preserve safety, property rights and quality of life.
Cass County’s current rules regulating commercial wind turbines require them to be at least 1,000 feet from residences and the length of a turbine blade from nonparticipating property lines.
The Cass County Plan Commission plans to vote next month on whether to create a committee that will conduct research and consider possible changes to the county’s wind energy rules.
A proposed contract between Cass County and Harvest Wind Energy LLC indicated that the project’s turbines would’ve been at least 1,000 feet from nonparticipating property lines and 1,640 feet from residences. While a turbine model for the project had never been announced, RES had indicated in the past that they’d be between 500 to 670 feet tall. Depending on what kind of turbine was chosen, RES reported there’d be about 150 to 225 turbines across Cass and Miami counties.
Attempts were unsuccessful Tuesday to reach some of the Cass County property owners who were participating in the project.
Sailors said over 100 property owners and 40,000 acres had been signed up for the development.
The project was estimated to have added over $100 million to Cass County’s assessed value. A proposed contract called for Harvest Wind Energy to pay $5 million in economic development funds to the county and $25,000 per megawatt for every megawatt generated over 200.
Harvest Wind Energy was eyeing Adams, Bethlehem, Boone and Harrison townships in northern Cass County for the project. A financial adviser working for the county said in May that the development would have decreased tax rates in the four townships. He indicated an Adams Township home with a gross assessed value of $50,000 would have seen its tax bill drop by about $10 and then by $20 after a proposed 10-year, 55-percent property tax abatement for the company. A home with a gross assessed value of $150,000 would have seen its tax bill cut by $130 after the abatement period.
When those figures were announced, several Cass County residents indicated the decreased tax rates wouldn’t have been worth it to tolerate the turbines.
OUR VIEW: Power of people on displayPharos-Tribune
Sep 18, 2018
Tuesday morning's news that a proposed plan to bring wind turbines to Cass County is no longer being considered was applauded by some and castigated by others.
Without doubt, the debate that has raged for months over whether Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, should build wind turbines in the county has been among the most divisive in recent history. It pitted friends, family members and neighbors against each other. In a recent Public Forum, one Cass County resident shared how his family had fallen victim to the ferocity of the debate: "My son should not have to come home from school and ask why his schoolmates' parents or guardians will not wave or acknowledge him anymore."
Proponents pointed to the potential for increased revenues for the county, more jobs and a cleaner option for generating electricity as some of the reasons to support the plan. Opponents cited potential health concerns, negative impacts on property values and dangers to wildlife among reasons to stand against the introduction of wind turbines to rural Cass County.
Those debates are likely to continue indefinitely. And there's always a chance another wind turbine company will show interest in Cass County in the future, reigniting the battle.
The Pharos-Tribune has published dozens of stories and opinions from both sides during this tumultuous period. We have presented information from experts on both sides to help our readers make more educated decisions for themselves. But we have, quite deliberately, never taken a side in the debate. Rather, we have focused on the process.
When it became clear that citizens were not satisfied that their concerns were being heard by their representatives in local government, we wrote:
"Before wind farms are fully considered for introduction into Cass County, all concerns need to be openly and fully addressed. ... Scientific data and input from residents where similar turbine projects are already in place should be welcomed and open dialogue encouraged on both sides of the issue. We also support calls for meetings to be held in the evening as well on this issue, which would allow working folks to attend and have their viewpoints heard."
Earlier this month, the Cass County Plan Commission decided it would vote at its meeting next month on whether to create a committee that would conduct research and consider possible changes to the county's wind energy rules. The decision came after residents demanded a chance to voice their opinions publicly, frustrated that the commission had not met since January. Krista Pullen, a plan commission member, said "I'm concerned there's something we're missing and I would like to propose that we put a committee together to look at this a little further." Stacy Odom, also a plan commission member, added "With the number of people that are concerned, I think it's appropriate we do take a second look at it."
Now, less than a month later, the plan is dead.
Some will see this as a success. Others will see it as a failure. Perhaps wind turbines would have brought all the supposed positives to our area without any of the presumed negatives — or maybe the opposite. Most likely, as has been the case elsewhere, the reality would have not been quite as black and white as the heated arguments for and against wind turbines.
But one thing is certain: The power of the people to instigate change and stand up and fight against a proposition they feel is wrong cannot be underestimated. It's a lesson that should ring loudly for anyone who has ever complained that their opinions do not matter or that they are powerless to push back against what they perceive as preordained intentions of their government.
Cass County Commissioners President Jim Sailors said early Tuesday: "They've stopped the project. It's what they wanted to do."
That is the power of the people.
Clinton County Commissioners enacted a moratorium on wind development. E.ON is interested in a project there but Commissioners seem to be holding the line on their moratorium.
In Fulton County, a local citizens group opposing a proposed commercial wind farm chalked up another win. “Two of three Fulton County Commissioners, Bryan Lewis and Rick Ranstead, signed a pledge stating that as long as they hold public office they will not allow commercial wind turbines in the county. Commissioner Steve Metzger refused to sign, saying he wasn’t interested.”
Henry County citizens are fighting off three wind companies while election season heats up fast. Their No Wind Henry County group is putting forth strong candidates for some key seats in their county. We wish these candidates the best of luck: Ed Tarantino - Commissioner, Kenon Gray - County Council, Susan Huhn - County Council, and Peg Stefandel - County Council. Susan Huhn traveled to the Statehouse to speak in favor of House Bill 1338, representing her county well. We need more citizens across the state who care about the wind issue to take this important step and run for office and local change. Henry County was also well represented at the Statehouse in October 2017 where the Summer Study Session on wind issues was discussed. Also of note in Henry County, the ordinance is being contested with a petition for judicial review, and the Commissioners are now in the process of amending another ordinance.
The Jasper County Plan Commission is discussing possible changes to the wind ordinance. Opposition is mounting in Jasper County against the White Post Wind RES wind turbine project as neighboring Pulaski County just kicked RES and big wind out with the Pulaski Plan Commission's ban on industrial wind turbines. The Jasper County Property Rights group, made up largely of landowners with a significant amount of land, livestock farmers and residents, are opposing the project. Aeronautical studies have been filed with the FAA on landowners' property who did not sign up for wind turbines on their ground. It is unclear why the wind company would be doing this. RES rep Matt Boys admitted in a public meeting RES does not pay for the expensive aeronautical studies. It is the American taxpayers who are footing the bill for these studies, many of which are for bogus locations for wind turbines. Landowners in Fulton, Cass, and Miami are noticing FAA filings for wind turbines on land they have not leased to RES. Jasper County Landowners have indicated NextEra is also in their area getting wind lease contracts signed.
Miami County's new ordinance with 2,000 foot setbacks to property lines and roads took effect July 11, 2018! Congratulations, Miami County Property Rights group!
Montgomery County - Montgomery County's No Wind group is at least 1,100 - and growing strong. Their challenges are unique in that their county does not have wind in its ordinance and they are working diligently to get protections in place for residents.
Pulaski County -
Pulaski County Plan Commission Votes to Ban Wind Turbines Posted on July 24, 2018 AuthorMichael Gallenberger
The Pulaski County Advisory Plan Commission has recommended banning wind turbines. The vote drew a standing ovation from a packed room of local residents and landowners at the Star City Community Building Monday. It came after a public hearing on proposed changes to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance that would have significantly restricted wind turbine development.
The reasons cited for banning it outright included the safety and welfare of the community, flicker issues, and questions about the county’s ability to provide fire protection to the structures. Those were many of the same concerns raised by the 17 audience members who spoke during the hearing.
Some addressed the specific proposals in the ordinance, calling for increased setbacks and protections for property owners. Others seemed to address local landowners themselves, warning them of the potential drawbacks to entering into long-term leases with wind energy companies. Some acknowledged that a wind farm might mean some revenue for the county in the short-term, but felt it would do little to stop the population decline and attract new residents.
In any case, most of those in attendance were simply against allowing wind turbines at all, as one member of the public pointed out. “There’s been a lot of good points brought up about shadow flicker and setbacks going back to the property, but in all honestly, you have your mind made up whether you want them or not,” he said. “So let’s see, how many people here want them? Huh, no one raised their hand. I think if people were passionate about this, they’d be here fighting for them.”
Following the public hearing, commission member Lawrence Loehmer moved to place a three-year moratorium on wind turbine construction. But others felt it would that would simply push a decision into the future, rather than resolving the issue. Commission member Matt Rausch noted that the ordinance changes that were proposed would make it very difficult for wind energy companies to develop in the county, anyway, and member Rick Stone made the motion to ban the turbines outright.
The plan commission’s recommendation will now go to the county commissioners for final approval. Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer noted that the county has to provide legal justification for banning the structures. He pointed out that the commissioners could ask the plan commission to refine the approved language, based on the county attorney’s recommendation.
County Attorney Kevin Tankersley was not in attendance Monday. Neither were plan commission members Mike Tiede and Phil Woolery.
Tipton County Council
The Auditor of Tipton County, Gregg Townsend, appears on a billboard in Montgomery County with a quote saying that Tipton County Supports Wind.
At a Tipton Co. Council, Mr. Townsend was questioned on this public statement appearing on the billboard. The message is being taken as a blanket statement representing the position of the entire County, which members of Council, Commissioner Mullins, and citizens of Tipton County find unacceptable.
Meeting link appears here. Go to the 1 hour 55 minute mark:
Last October, Mr. Townsend spoke openly FOR WIND at the Summer Study Hearing at the Statehouse. He spoke as Tipton County AUDITOR, as an OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE of his county. After the hearing, one bystander mentioned to Mr. Townsend that he failed to share with the Summer Study Members that Tipton County INCREASED their setbacks AFTER that first phase of turbines was erected.that Tipton County, by and large, does NOT support Wind or further development in the county. Now, Mr. Townsend continues to tout support for Wind Energy, portraying that the entire County enthusiastically supports wind energy, and is encouraging other Indiana counties to do the same.
We say: TAKE DOWN THE BILLBOARD, MR. TOWNSEND.
IURC Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
NEXTERA EVIDENTIARY HEARING AT THE STATEHOUSE
NEXTERA EVIDENTIARY HEARING AT THE STATEHOUSE delayed again at developer's request