Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 5, 2014

Landowner speaks out in favor of turbines

Merida said wind turbine impact has been minimal

By Martin Slagter
Kokomo Tribune

— Standing out in the field behind his family farm in Tipton, Greg Merida sometimes wonders if people are hearing something that he isn’t.

Things have been even quieter for Merida and his family since the lone wind turbine that stands on their property had its blade broken off March 2.

So, when remonstrators express their concern about the safety of the turbines among many other nuisances they create, notably excessive noise, Merida urges them to stand out in the field and listen.

“When I’m in my house, I don’t hear these things,” he said. “Occasionally, we’ll get some [shadow] flicker in our bedroom window, but it doesn’t bother us. If you’ve got the blinds drawn, it’s not going to affect you.”

Merida said there has been little reason to be up in arms about wind development when his property hasn’t experienced many of the ill effects that have been associated with the turbines.

He noted that his television and cell phone reception has remained undisturbed in addition to the lack of noise being generated. None of Merida’s family members, including his wife and daughter, have complained about the minimal impact it has had on their lives.

Out in the field, Merida shows where lightning likely struck the tip of the turbine’s blade, leaving burn marks, while a cable traveling along the side of the turbine may have conducted electricity to the base of the blade where it broke off, leaving additional burn marks.

Although it was the second blade to break in the Wildcat Wind Farm in 2014, it has not been a concern for Merida and many of his family members, who also have wind turbines on their farm property nearby.

The voices that continue to speak out against wind farm development in the county remain strong and united as ever heading into Tuesday’s primary where some candidates have taken a hard stance against future development.

As those voices continue to have their say through groups like the Citizens for Responsible Development and most recently the Citizens for Responsible Government, Merida is one of the few voices speaking out in favor of the wind turbines that make up the landscape around his home.

“None of us have been able to figure out what the CRD and the CRG is talking about,” he said. “They’re all from Sharpsville and they don’t live among the wind turbines like we do. The only thing they have to go on is through what other people say or what they read on the Internet.”

Merida said he doesn’t like the idea that Tuesday’s primary has been labeled by some as a referendum vote.

“There’s a lot more business in this county to take care of than just windmills,” he said. “There are a lot of other things that these elected officials have to take care of.”

Merida, who has lived on the farm near 500 East just north of Ind. 28 since he was born, noted that there have been other misconceptions from the public on the issue of wind energy, based on his experiences.

One of those has been his dealings with wind energy company E-ON, which has been responsive to him since he signed a contract with them and throughout the entire process since the turbine blade broke off.

“If E-ON were to come here today and say they’d like to put another wind turbine on your farm, I would say ‘go for it,’” he said. “They’ve been very easy to work with. So far, they’ve done everything for us that they said they would do.”

Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s primary, Merida said he will continue to see the turbines as a sign of progress.

“I see them as our future,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to embrace change or you get left behind. I see [the wind farm] as a change for the good.”

Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, martin.slagter@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @slagterm.