Turbine locations reported by RES to FAA

This map shows the RES submissions to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the  Logansport region including Cass, Fulton and Miami Counties.

You can zoom in/out by using +/ and also by holding “ctrl” plus using the “scroll wheel” and move map N,E,S,W by “left click” and “drag.”

RES filed for turbines in Fulton County even though wind turbines are a prohibited use in Fulton County. This is a map of RES’s proposed wind turbine locations filed with the FAA. It appears that RES has filed for some turbines on ground they don’t have leased. If you see turbines on your ground that you didn’t sign up for, please call Brad Lila, RES Development Director, at 612-590-2586 and request he remove the turbines off your ground. Why would RES report to the FAA turbine locations on unleased ground? Hmmm…

Citizen alleges wind farm collusion

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(The following letter was originally published in the “Voice of the People” of The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, IN on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.)

Residents need to stay vigilant when it comes to “big wind” in Fulton County, because it can come roaring back at any time. Recently some wind companies have been suing local municipalities who are trying to keep them out. On February 9th, RES (Renewable Energy Systems) filed with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) for 436 industrial wind turbines in Fulton, Cass, and Miami Counties. That’s right, you didn’t read that incorrectly, they filed for turbines in Fulton County in February 2018, well after the final vote prohibiting wind turbines in Fulton County. Why would RES do that? Why are their bird and bat counters still lurking around our county? Why is the local RES salesman still on their payroll? Perhaps because RES has some key allies in Fulton County; namely our Area Plan Commission executive director, one commissioner, and most of the Area Plan Commission regardless of the public outcry and letters against the project found in several requests of public records of Fulton County officials’ files. Just what was found in those files? Oh the tangled web they weave. Let’s unravel it for the good people of Fulton County.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of collusion: secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose. Is that what has been happening in Fulton County with the wind project? Evidence found in the Executive Plan Director’s files are as follows: On August 22, 2017, Area Plan Commission Executive Director Casi Cowles admits via e-mail to RES project director Brad Lila that the Fulton County ordinance is a “mirror image” of White, Cass and Miami counties. White County’s ordinance is an often-copied document that welcomes big wind into counties, and was written when wind turbines were half the size of the turbines planned for Fulton, Cass and Miami Counties.

In the minutes for the 8/28 Area Plan Commission meeting at the time of the “writing” of the ordinance, Cowles said she pulled information from Wabash and Clinton Counties (counties with more protective setbacks), but that information, according to the information request, does not appear to have been shared prior to that meeting for the board’s review. The only counties pulled for the PC board to compare at the 8/28 meeting were Benton, Cass, Miami, White, and Tipton. Ironically, two of those five counties are in the current RES proposal with weak language, and two others were the first two counties in the state to install such towers, also having weak language. Only ONE county (Tipton) was used showing safer setbacks. Only ONE PC board member questioned the small/biased sample and asked for more county comparisons.

From a Rochester Sentinel article: Cowles said there will not come a time where she will give a recommendation to county officials about how they should vote on the zoning regulations pertaining to wind power or on approving a wind farm. It’s not her job to recommend, she said, only to prepare the information officials need to make an educated vote. “I think it’s more important to focus on the facts,” Cowles said.

Let’s talk about facts. Because we requested Cowles’ entire file, all e-mails, etc. for communication with the Commissioners, FEDCO, Plan Commission, and RES reps regarding wind turbines, it appears the executive director originally provided no data showing counties with longer setbacks for decisions to be based upon. Also, no scientific data was provided by the executive director to our officials supporting the idea that a 1,200 foot setback from a home is safe, yet we citizens were challenged at the 10/16 Commissioners meeting to provide peer-reviewed studies proving that wind turbines sited closer than 2,640 feet from a home are not safe. Brad Lila said none exist. We then provided nearly 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies showing the proposed setbacks are unsafe. Cowles did not provide enough information for our officials to cast a vote with the health, safety and well being of the citizens of Fulton County in mind. The only entity in mind in our proposed ordinance appears to be RES and Brad Lila. This is evident in the many RES and Brad Lila references Cowles used during the meetings and in emails. This was supposed to be about reviewing and updating the WECS ordinance, not about a project or specific company. So why the constant communication and collusion with RES?

Citizens questioned who the ordinance was written for – to protect people or if it was written to help RES. In an August 24 email from Brad Lila to Casi Cowles, the message has a subject line of: Additional Changes to Wind Ordinance. The e-mail shows strike-throughs where RES engineers changed the wording in our ordinance and wrote what they wanted for braking systems in the Fulton County ordinance, which was later the exact wording in the ordinance. It is collusion to allow a contractor to write part of a zoning ordinance.

Only two members from all boards receiving information from Cowles on setbacks (Plan Commission, Commissioners, FEDCO) questioned ANY of Casi’s information (and lack of information) provided, and that was Eric Straeter, President of the Area Plan Commission and member Kathy Hobbs. Straeter wanted more time to study the problems citizens experience living in wind farms, and should be commended. Sadly during their February meeting, the Area Plan Commission voted to be able to remove an officer after Straeter brought it to the board’s attention that Cowles has not had an annual evaluation for several years (per comments made by board members Mark Kepler and Jim Widman at the January meeting). Straeter insisted annual evaluations begin taking place like they are annually for all other appointed department heads. As the February meeting was concluding, Cowles loudly accused Straeter in front of the board and crowd of divulging information about her evaluation during a public meeting (what evaluation? It hasn’t been happening) and she demanded Straeter be removed from the committee evaluating her. Only time will tell if legalized corruption will continue or not.

Signed, A Concerned Citizen

Plan director scrutinized; Wind farm opposition: Cowles colluded with RES

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(The following article originally was published in The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, IN on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.)

BY WESLEY DEHNE

Staff Writer, The Sentinel

 

Fulton County Plan Director Casi Cowles said she seeks expertise when writing ordinances that pertain to specific land uses.

 

She’s under fire from an anonymous citizen and others opposed to a wind farm proposal. They say she colluded with Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, as it worked to develop Harvest Wind Energy LLC wind farm in Fulton County.

 

The claims against Cowles are that she allowed RES to write part of the county’s ordinance and did not provide county officials enough information to make an educated decision or cast a vote with citizens’ health, safety and well-being in mind. A letter to the editor on the matter appears on Page 4 of today’s Sentinel. It is based largely on a massive public records request for the communications of county officials.

 

The first claim comes from an August 2017 email she received from Brad Lila, director of development for RES. The subject line of the email is “Additional Changes to Wind Ordinance.” It shows strike-throughs where RES engineers changed the wording in the county’s ordinance for turbine braking systems. The company’s exact wording was later put into the ordinance.

 

“I allowed Kenny Anderson to write part of the ordinance, too, if you want to word it that way,” Cowles said in response to the claim. “I’ve allowed elected officials of the Republican Party to write part of the ordinance, if that was their expertise. I’ve allowed contractors to write part of the ordinance.”

 

She noted how Anderson had previously come to her asking for the definition of an industrialized house to be changed in the county’s ordinance.

 

“I read it, I passed it through the attorney, I said, ‘You know what, I see your point, I think you’re right, I will give it to the board,’” she said. “The board agreed, so Kenny Anderson wrote part of our ordinance.”

 

She went on to say that Lila contacted her about the section on controls and brakes for turbines, saying it was outdated. She said she asked if he could provide better language, adding that’s how the email originated.

 

She said she handed a copy of the suggested change to Area Plan Commission President Eric Straeter, who reportedly took no issue with the proposal. It was then reviewed and approved by the plan commission, she said.

 

“I don’t vote on any of it. I present options to the board, and they choose,” she said. “I didn’t let [RES] write anything more than I do anybody else.”

 

She noted anyone can suggest a change to the county’s ordinance. While there are times she agrees with suggested amendments, she said she would not be an advocate for an individual or company.

 

“My job is to provide information to the board on amendments that I feel are needed,” she said.

 

Critics of Cowles’ actions also allege she failed to provide county officials information about counties with longer setbacks and provided no scientific data to support that a 1,200-foot setback from a home is sufficient.

 

Cowles said it is not her job to research the pros and cons of wind turbines for county officials and said she did provide additional counties’ setbacks upon request.

 

“Whenever we do amendments to the code, I’m dealing with every single legislative body in the county … They all have different priorities,” she said. “I don’t do their research for them because there is no way for me to guess what all these different entities are possibly going to find important.”

 

She continued: “My job is to try provide them the petition if there is one. In this particular case there was not. It was an amendment to an existing code.”

 

She said officials’ original intent was to review the county’s ordinance to clarify language related to wind energy development – not to question if it was good or bad for the county.

“Every single one of these elected bodies had already voted on the fact that they wanted wind development in Fulton County,” she said. “The original purpose of what we were doing was amending an already established ordinance. I didn’t feel I needed to send them, which I don’t ever, pros and cons.”

 

Given that county officials had previously welcomed the idea of wind energy development, Cowles said she felt it unnecessary in the beginning to provide them with information from counties that don’t allow wind turbines.

 

From the outset, she said, “The question was not – Do we want bigger setbacks?”

 

The original objective, she said, was to compare counties that have similar ordinances to see where Fulton County’s ordinance needed updated.

“In the August meeting, [Straeter] asked for additional counties, so I gave it to them,” she said. “But again, in the August meeting we weren’t talking about changing an ordinance from agreeing with wind development to not agreeing with it.”

 

Prior to the plan commission ruling on several amendments, Cowles said she did provide the board with information from counties with longer setbacks. A chart prepared by Cowles and reportedly shared with the board shows setback information for White, Pulaski, Starke, Howard, Benton, Clinton, Tipton, Marshall, Kosciusko, Whitley, Wabash, Miami and Cass counties. Turbine setbacks for Kern County, California, which has the third largest wind farm in the U.S., were also reportedly shared by Cowles.

 

“I definitely did my job,” Cowles said. “I don’t do their research for them, and the information they asked me for that’s what I provided to them.”

 

The RES project would have brought more than 130 wind turbines to Wayne, Liberty, Union and Rochester townships in Fulton County. However, the project was brought to a halt in Fulton County after Commissioners Bryan Lewis and Rick Ranstead signed a resolution in December 2017 that prohibits commercial wind turbines in the county.

Metzger under scrutiny; Wind farm opposition: He helped RES

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(The following article was originally published by The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, Indiana on Monday, March 19, 2018.)

BY WESLEY DEHNE
Staff Writer, The Sentinel

Allegations of collusion have surfaced against two Fulton County officials following requests of public records related to a wind farm proposal.

The claims are against Commissioner Steve Metzger and Area Plan Director Casi Cowles and were detailed to The Sentinel by a concerned citizen who wishes to remain anonymous.  

Cowles and Metzger were at one time in direct contact with representatives of RES, an international renewable energy company interested in developing Harvest Wind Energy LLC wind farm.

The project would have brought more than 130 wind turbines to Wayne, Liberty, Union and Rochester townships in Fulton County. However, the project was brought to a halt in Fulton County after Commissioners Bryan Lewis and Rick Ranstead signed a resolution in December 2017 that prohibits commercial wind turbines in the county.

That resolution went into effect in mid-January, when Lewis and Ranstead also signed a pledge stating that as long as they hold public office they will not allow commercial wind turbines in the county. Metzger, who is an advocate for RES’ project, did not sign the pledge or participate in signing the resolution.

In November 2017 Metzger recused himself from voting on proposed amendments to a section of the county’s zoning ordinance that governs wind energy conversion systems, or WECS. He cited “perceived conflicts of interest” as the reason, noting opponents of the RES’ Harvest Wind Energy project have been critical that his accountant and friend, Matt Berry, is employed by RES and that his wife’s side of the family could have potentially benefited from the project.

Metzger’s recusal also meant he could not discuss or make any decisions related to RES’ project. By recusing himself, he avoided an initial request from a citizen to turn over emails, phone records and texts related to WECS. However, Akron resident Chuck Shane submitted a second request for Metzger’s public records in December 2017.

One claim that surfaced from a review of those records is that Metzger, prior to his recusal, helped Berry get landowners to sign lease agreements for the wind farm. Text messages retrieved from Metzger’s personal cellphone show the two discussed Kerry and Kurt Newman, Seth White, Arnold Brandt and Jay Masteller and their potential for signing a lease agreement.

“I pretty much did,” Metzger said when asked if he was helping Berry to sign landowners. “I never went with him anywhere. He’d ask me these vague questions, so I guess you could say I was giving him information – nothing to compromise the county.”

Metzger said the information he provided Berry was “nothing out of line.”

He has been criticized for providing Berry a map showing how most farmers in Wayne Township were opposed to RES’ project. Metzger told The Sentinel he did provide the map to Berry, noting it was presented at a public meeting and is public information.

He did, however, deny speculation that he tried to convince his father-inlaw and grandmother-inlaw to sign a lease agreement.

“I made it a point not to talk to any of them,” he said. “It’s none of my business. If they want to do it, they do it.”

Metzger told The Sentinel that another claim by the anonymous source, that he allegedly sent Berry to talk to Brad Boldry about a lease agreement, is a blatant lie.

Metzger admitted texting Miami County Commissioner Josh Francis, who is also on RES’ payroll, a “play-byplay” of meetings taking place in Fulton County.

“He’d give us a play-byplay of what’s going on down there,” Metzger said of Francis, adding that Miami County is also discussing regulations that would pertain to RES’ project.

Metzger’s text messages show he also was identifying opposition in the crowd and felt more vocal support for RES’ project was needed in Fulton County. In a text to Francis, he wishes him good luck for an upcoming meeting and comments that the “crazies” are coming his way. When asked who he was referring to, Metzger said, “I hate to say it, but the anti-wind people that make up all this fearmongering.”

He went on to say there’s no proof that wind turbines are detrimental to people’s health.

“One side says they’d be, one side doesn’t,” he said. “There’s not a long list of people at a hospital because of turbines.”

Another concern is that Metzger did not release emails sent to his personal email account. In a response to Shane’s request, Fulton County Attorney Greg Heller states, “Metzger informs me that any information regarding the proposed wind project would be contained on his county email account and not on his personal email account.”

A public records request of Plan Director Cowles has revealed that at least a dozen emails pertaining to wind energy development have been sent to Metzger’s personal email address. When asked about those emails, which are subject to the public records request, Metzger said he was unaware they were coming to his personal email account.

“I haven’t even checked it,” he said, adding that it’s basically a dead account. “I’ve got like 1,200 emails I’ve never even looked at on that account.” He said his failure to release such emails was an oversight by him and Heller. “I’ll be glad to give any other pertinent information on further request,” he said.

Metzger denied any conflicts of interest and maintains he has nothing to hide. He said he had the county’s best interest in mind. “If somebody wants to bring a 1.6-billion- dollar project to the area, don’t you think the commissioners ought to try to help?”

“I don’t know why a commissioner can’t be for something good for the county and look into it. I feel like I got massacred for that,” he said. “I just think I was new, they saw me as weak and prowind, so they were coming after me … ” Metzger said he believes commissioners would still be going through the process with RES had he not recused himself.

“I think there’s something that changed the other commissioners’ minds, and I don’t know what it was. Cause at first, we were all on board,” he said. “We still never even got the whole details of what it was going to entail.”

When questioned about speculation that RES might file a lawsuit against Fulton County to get its project into the area, Metzger said: “Well, if we had an ordinance for 10 years before and it was legal and you could sign up, they’re thinking we’re open for business, and then you pull the plug halfway through it. I think they have a legal right to.”

There is concern among opponents of the wind farm project that RES may still have Fulton County on its radar, due to the Federal Aviation Administration receiving 436 aeronautical studies for wind turbines located north of Grissom Air Force Base in Miami, Cass and Fulton counties. RES reportedly submitted the wind turbines for aeronautical study on Feb. 9 – well after county commissioners took action to prohibit commercial wind turbines in the county.

“I’d say that’s been in the works from the beginning, and they’re just now getting around to it,” Metzger said of the FAA request.

He said he doesn’t know if the company is still operating in Fulton County and has “made it a point” to no longer discuss the project with Berry. “I know he’s working for RES, but I don’t know if they’re doing anything.”

Calls to Brad Lila, director of development for RES, were not returned.

‘We still never even got the whole details of what it was going to entail.’ ‘… so I guess you could say I was giving him information – nothing to compromise the county.’

Top 10 Reasons Why RES’s Project is a Mess

The following was originally posted on Facebook on Friday, February 23, 2018.
RES = Renewable Energy Systems

Top 10 Reasons RES's Wind Turbine Project is a Mess:10. RES lost an ENTIRE county and ⅓ of their project during the…

Posted by Fulton County, IN Property Rights on Friday, February 23, 2018

 

Fulton County: Pledge to stop turbines signed by commissioners

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(The following was originally published in The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, IN on Thursday, January 18, 2018.)

BY WESLEY DEHNE
Staff Writer, The Sentinel

A local citizens group opposing a proposed commercial wind farm chalked up another win in Fulton County on Monday.

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.

“I mean, we’ve already voted to take it out,” he said, questioning, “What else do you want?”

Lewis and Ranstead signed a resolution in December that prohibits commercial wind energy conversion systems, or WECS, in the unincorporated areas of the county. Metzger did not participate in the signing of that resolution. He recused himself from any county business related to wind energy development. That resolution goes into effect today.

Lynn Plummer-Studebaker, who conceived of the pledge and has been fighting against a proposed three-county wind farm considered by Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, told Metzger the purpose of pledge was to give commissioners an opportunity to make their intentions known for the future.

“We’re thankful and relieved about the ban on industrial turbines, so we will forever be grateful for that,” she said, adding opposition efforts are now being undertaken in Cass and Miami counties. “We worry, of course, that RES is going to come back if this project goes through in either of the other two counties or if another company would come in and buy those leases, and they would approach you with a new project.”

She continued: “We do hear from our friends that we’ve made recently in Miami and Cass that they do hear from some officials there that this project is not dead in Fulton County … I think it would mean not only a lot to us, as your constituents, but also to other people who are worried about the project as well.”

She took her fight against commercial wind farms to the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday to testify in favor of House Bill 1338.

If approved, the bill would make it a criminal offense for a public official to not disclose any conflicts of interests with the development of a wind farm. Secondly, it outlines that after June 30 the siting of any proposed wind turbine would first have to be approved by voters.

Wind farm developers would also be required to make certain disclosures regarding conflicts of interest involving elected or unelected officials. If they violate the law they could be subject to fines of $50,000 or more.

“We are pleased with this bill overall but a few things do need to be changed,” Plummer-Studebaker told The Sentinel in an email.

“The current language of the bill establishes a minimum setback distance of 2,200’ from a dwelling,” she continues in her email. “We have already expressed concern that this distance must be measured from a nonparticipant property line, not a dwelling.”

Fulton County resident Russ Phillips, who has been critical of the proposed wind farm from the outset, asked commissioners when the meteorological or “MET” towers, which have been collecting data for RES, would come down.

“I’m not sure,” Lewis responded. “I’m sure they have a contract for data gathering with the landowners … I’d say they’ve got a contract, and they’re going to leave them up as long as the contract is because we did what we did.”

Phillips responded: “When the MET towers do come down, I think that would just be a further indication to Fulton County that it’s not happening and it’s not going to be happening in the near future, as far as commercial wind energy.”

Phillips also asked when the county’s zoning ordinance, which regulates both commercial and noncommercial wind turbines, would be amended and made available online. County Attorney Greg Heller directed him to Area Plan Director Casi Cowles for that information.

Local roads would miss out in Gov. Mike Pence’s $1 billion spending plan

(A Presidential Debate schedule and transcripts are here. – Admin.) IndyStar.com By Tony Cook 10/15/15 Gov. Mike Pence’s proposed $1 billion spending plan on highways over the next four years would represent an increase over current spending — but it leaves out a … Continue reading

Jack Jordan launches campaign for District 17 of Indiana House

(District 17 includes all of Fulton County with the exception of Liberty and Union Townships and all of Marshall County. Candidate listing is here.– Admin.)

Jack Jordan launches campaign

The Rochester Sentinel
The Sentinel report
7/8/15

Republican Jack Jordan has launched his campaign for the District 17 Indiana House of Representative seat now held by Tim Harman, R-Bremen, who will not run for re-election.

Jordan describes his political philosophy as constitutional conservative, “built on a firm foundation of a solid Christian Worldview.”

When asked why he is running for the Indiana House seat representing Marshall and north Fulton counties, Jordan said, “Unfortunately, over time, even with its good intentions, an expanding government limits an individual’s freedom to pursue their dreams. I want to work with other conservatives to limit the government’s detrimental impact on our daily lives.”

Jordan is the seventh generation of his family to call Marshall County home. His wife, Hope, is a health care professional serving veterans’ needs. Jordan has two children. His daughter recently graduated from college and is beginning her teaching career. His son is studying engineering at Purdue University.

Jordan’s primary job is construction and rehabbing houses. In his non-construction work hours, he helps local businesses and serves several nonprofit organizations. He also served on the Bremen School Board for eight years and was president for most of that time.

As an adult, Jordan has been involved with missions. Most recently his travels have taken him to Romania and India where he has spent time working with orphans, pastors and church planting activities.

Jesse Bohannon announces candidacy (for District 17 of IN House of Representatives)

(District 17 includes all of Fulton County with the exception of Liberty and Union Townships and all of Marshall County. – Admin.) inkfreenews.com 5/20/15 Jesse Bohannon of Bremen has announced he is a candidate for the Republican nomination in district 17 … Continue reading