Former official talks of turbines (‘I wish someone had done it for me’)

GROUNDED Above, Tipton County resident Greg Merida stands next to a wind turbine blade that broke and fell on his property in March 2014; below, another failed blade sits at the base of its turbine in the Wildcat I wind farm in Tipton County in April 2014. Tipton County has experienced a total of three blade failures, reports former county commissioner Jane Harper. Photos provided

(The following was originally published in The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, IN on Friday, November 3, 2017. Slight formatting and editing changes have been made.)

BY CHRISTINA M. SEILER
Managing Editor, The Sentinel

Jane Harper wishes she knew then what she knows now.

The former Tipton County commissioner said Thursday she was responsible for helping approve Wildcat I Wind Farm in Tipton County and now greatly regrets that.

She read Fulton County’s proposed zoning code changes pertaining to commercial wind farms, she said, and was “absolutely stunned.”

So she reached out to The Sentinel via a Viewpoint page letter to the editor. That’s on Page 4 today. And she talked with The Sentinel over the telephone, noting she couldn’t say everything she wanted to in a single letter.

Harper is outspoken on the issue of large-scale wind energy production. She said everyone in her county was in the dark about the long-lasting effects of the wind farm. There are many. They now suffer for a variety of reasons, she said.

She believes Fulton County officials, if they approve amendments to the current zoning ordinance covering wind farms, will end up with “the weakest ordinance ever.”

She noted 1.5 times setback for a 500-foot-tall wind turbine would be 750 feet. Really not that much, she said.

She also said the fact the amendments remove the requirement that wind farms get special exceptions is “robbing the public of their right to a judicial review.”

If a special exception is granted, citizens can fight that through the court and the case goes to a judge in another county. “It puts it in the lens of someone on the outside,” Harper said. “So that is huge if they pass that. When I saw that I was absolutely stunned.”

Harper learned of Fulton County’s current situation through National Wind Watch, an organization that tracks wind power projects.

“I don’t have anything in it. I’m doing it because I wish someone had done it for me,” she said of informing people in potential wind farm areas about the pitfalls.

Not only is she living with her decision as a former county commissioner, but she lives in a wind farm area among the towers.

Harper also said:

  • Fulton County can’t compare a proposed project here to the ones in Benton and White counties. The towers are not the same size, nor are the population densities there. In White County, every single resident is compensated by the wind power company. Also, the towers there are smaller, in both height and blade size.
  • The presence of towers is constant. She said you can see the strobe lights on turbines from 15 miles at night. Noise can only be experienced fully by living among the towers. She compared it to when a jet passes over. In that case, the sound goes away. But among the towers it can be constant. At other times, the towers can sound like a pack of barking dogs, or like bearings moving. Sometimes, she said, there’s no sound. It’s all dependent on the weather, which changes constantly. “The shadow flicker, it’s real. The noise, it’s real,” Harper said.
  • She compared the financial offer of $4,000 per tower, which she read somewhere, to raping Fulton County citizens. Tipton County residents received $14,000 per tower.
  • Fulton County is probably one of the last counties in the state approached about a wind energy project for one simple reason – the wind here isn’t very good. That’s why taller towers are proposed, she said. Add in the county’s weak ordinance, she said, and the company sees profit. “Why do you think you’re one of the last counties in Indiana to be approached? You’re easy pickings,” she said.
  • The promises Tipton County received from the wind energy company were

false. “Not one person in our county was employed,” Harper said. After the first year of tower operations, she added, the county, its citizens and organizations received no more goodwill or contact from the company. “There’s nothing anymore. You don’t hear from them. They don’t care.”

  • The true benefits to people and government, including schools, from the wind project were negligible. Property taxes dropped about $25 a year. “That’s nothing. That’s like two pizzas. Big deal,” Harper exclaimed.

Note: Read comments and response from county officials in Saturday’s edition of The Sentinel.

 

Printable Poster for November 9th Meeting

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

A printable poster regarding the meeting at the Fulton Community Center on November 9th is now available. A suggestion would be to print a few and place them in your workplace, businesses and in the hands of your friends and neighbors, particularly those who don’t use the internet and may not receive The Rochester Sentinel and/or Shopping Guide News of Fulton County. Thanks for your help. (poster

Agenda & Guidelines for November 9th Meeting in Fulton

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

The Fulton County Commissioners will hold a Public Meeting at the Fulton Community Center, 214 East Dunn Street, Fulton, IN on November 9, 2017 from 6:30 pm until 8:30 pm. Doors will open at 5 pm. The Guidelines are very specific. Please read them carefully. To speak you must add your name to the speaker list before 6:30P.M. You may not plan to speak but as the meeting progresses you may change your mind. A suggestion is to sign the speakers’ list before 6:30. When your name is called you can always say “pass.” If you are not signed up by 6:30 you will not even have the opportunity to speak. (more)

For Sale: Liberty and Wayne Townships

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

For sale: Liberty and Wayne Townships. Next? The other six townships that complete the remainder of Fulton County. Far-fetched? Not really. Let me explain.

Several years ago a wind developer wanted to locate industrial wind turbines in parts of Marshall and northern Fulton Counties. The project never rose above the ground because wind turbines were banned in Marshall County. (more)

Petition details citizens’ setback wishes

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(The following was originally published in The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, IN on Saturday, October 28, 2017.)

BY WESLEY DEHNE
Staff Writer, The Sentinel

A group of wind farm opponents have launched an online petition calling for stricter wind turbine setbacks in Fulton County. 

The petition, hosted at gopetition. com, was launched last week and is linked on the Facebook page Fulton County Property Rights. More than 70 people have signed the petition, which calls for a wind turbine setback of 2,640 feet from a property line. 

The present standard is a setback of 1.1 times the total height of a wind turbine from a property line and 1.5 times the height from a residential dwelling. For a turbine of 600 feet, that’s 660 feet from a property line and 900 feet from a residence. However, officials are revisiting those setbacks ahead of the proposed development of a wind farm project. 

Renewable energy company RES has been contacting landowners to sign lease agreements for a wind farm that could bring 300 wind turbines to south Fulton County, northwest Miami County and northeast Cass County. In Fulton County there could be as many as 100 wind turbines south of County Road 400 South. 

A setback of 1.5 times the total height of a wind turbine from a property line and 2 times the height from a residential dwelling are among several amendments to the county’s ordinance governing wind energy conversion systems being considered by Fulton County Commissioners. 

The proposed new setbacks would require a wind turbine of 600 feet to be located 900 feet from a property line and 1,200 feet from a residence. 

The contentious issue of setbacks will likelybe discussed during a public meeting slated 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Fulton Community Building. To allow time for conversation, doors will open at 5 p.m. 

Commissioners organized the meeting to receive feedback from residents about wind energy development in the county. 

Commissioner Bryan Lewis told The Sentinel the Fulton County Property Rights group and RES will have 10 minutes each to present. Representatives of financial consulting firm H.J. Umbaugh & Associates and law firm Barnes & Thornburg will also speak. 

The firms, along with Area Plan Director Casi Cowles, will be given 15 minutes to present. Lewis said there will also be a sign-up sheet for anyone wanting to give a brief comment. The format is to alternate between supporters and opponents of wind farm development. 

Lewis said there will be no vote taken that night by commissioners.

Wind farm opposition grows

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(Originally published by The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, IN on Thursday, October 19, 2017.)

A crowd of concerned citizens, some proudly wearing anti-wind turbine buttons, filled Fulton County Commissioners’ meeting room Monday to voice their opposition to wind farm development in the county. (more)

Public encouraged to attend meeting, Rules for wind power likely to be discussed

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(The following was published in The Rochester Sentinel of Rochester, IN on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.)

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Production difficulties prevented this letter to the editor from appearing in Friday’s edition of The Sentinel.

 

The Fulton County Commissioners meet 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at the Fulton County Office Building. At this time, the agenda has not been published; however, it is assumed that near the end of the meeting the audience will be allowed to ask questions and comment about wind energy ordinance amendments that are being considered. I urge residents to attend to become better informed.

 

Wind ordinance and wind farms are a complicated topic and frequently a controversial topic. This was evident last week at our Statehouse when a hearing on the topic was held and as reported in this paper and other media. Many resources on the topic will be found on www.myusagovernment. org and by doing your own research by searching “wind power problems” online.

 

The following Indiana counties have either banned or declared a moratorium on wind farms: Allen, Boone, Delaware, Grant,Howard, Marshall and Wells. Also, the additional counties have established residential setbacks, as noted, that will help to insure residents’ health, safety and welfare: Noble (3,960’), Rush (2,300’), Tipton (increased to 2,640’ after first project), Wabash (2,640’) and Whitley (2,640’).

 

The Fulton County Area Plan Commission has recommended to commissioners a residential setback of 2x the height of the tower, with a tower being 600’. Thus, a setback of 1,200’ has been recommended.

 

Hope to see you Monday night.

 

Russell Phillips

The Incompatibility of Wind and Crop ‘Farming’

“I kind of look at it like it’s almost a form of farming.” – Terry Lee, FEDCO Dir. (RS, 4/17/17)
Farming – the activity or business of growing crops and raising livestock (Dictionary)

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

“…For years, politicians and urban/suburbanites have been treated to heaping doses of win-win business tales of family farmers leasing sections of their crop land for wind development, while working the soil right up to the towers and earning extra revenue to keep the land open. But like so much Big Wind hype, there’s an ugly reality that has gone untold…” (more)

Residents file wind farm complaints

Tipton County Indiana (east of Kokomo, IN).

(A number of residents depend on “line of sight” to receive an internet connection. How might a wind farm affect their internet connection?)

“Residents blamed the Wildcat Wind Farm for creating noise, light flicker and cellphone and television reception issues in a stack of complaints delivered to the Tipton County Plan Commission…Steve Edson, Tipton County plan director, said he did accept the complaints but is not accepting responsibility for resolving the conflict…” (more)