By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer
It could be standing room only at future meetings of the Howard County Commissioners as a group of residents plan to fight a proposed wind farm in the eastern portion of the county.
E.ON Climate & Renewables plans to construct wind turbines in the county in the next two phases in the Wildcat Wind Farm. The project is already operating around the town of Windfall.
Approximately 75 people attended the first meeting of Howard County Residents for Safe Energy in the Greentown library Wednesday.
Susie Cox said although E.ON indicated it doesn’t plan to start the project until late 2013 or 2014, the company is speeding up the process and could file for improvement location permits in May.
Cox encouraged those in attendance to be at future county commissioner meetings and to wear white to show their opposition to the wind farm. A large group of people attended the April 22 meeting asking for a moratorium on wind farm permits.
Phase 2 of the Wildcat Wind Farm development is in southeast Howard County and will include up to 15 wind turbines. It also includes additional development in Grant County.
Phase 3 will be between Greentown and Converse in Jackson and Union townships. It will include up to 80 turbines. This phase will also include development in Grant County.
Howard County permits the development of wind farms on property zoned for agricultural use and requires a 1,050-foot setback from the nearest building. E.ON voluntarily uses a 1,250-foot setback.
“We need to let our elected officials know how we feel on this issue,” Cox said.
She said the world is learning about the adverse health effects of placing turbines near residential properties.
Grace Aprill said the group wants the county to change the setback requirements for the placement of a wind turbine and have it determined from the property line and not the nearest structure.
Noble and Whitley counties are considering changing their setbacks, she said.
Greentown resident Daymon Sommers said he doesn’t have all the facts and figures, but is opposed to the planned development.
“I grew up here,” Sommers said. “If these go up, I don’t want to live here anymore.”
Sommers said 100 farmers are earning $1,000 per month in lease payments from E.ON.
“Don’t they get enough subsidies already?” he asked.
Several members of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, which is fighting the planned Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in northwestern Tipton County said it is difficult to get the attention of local elected officials.
Mark Lynn with CRD said the past four months have been inspirational and frustrating for group members.
“It has been inspirational to see how the community came together,” he said. “It has been a challenge to get noticed by elected officials.”
Lynn said the opponents have to be recognized as a political power in the county. He said to be noticed, the group needs political clout.
CRD member Jeff Hoover said the Howard County opponents have to develop a game plan and urged residents to support the organization.
“You’re in the fourth quarter,” he said. “Tell the commissioners you don’t want wind turbines in Howard County.”
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