“Tipton County is not a county you build housing subdivisions on, Tipton County is the most productive agricultural county there is,” Salsbery said.
John Cardwell, who owns farmland in Tipton County and has worked as a lobbyist for years at the Indiana Statehouse, said the additional farm income from the turbines helps small farmers engage in more conservation practices.
“It really helps in terms of maintaining smaller homesteads, and it means rental agreements with young farmers might not require as much cash rent. It’s more money to invest in actual farming,” Cardwell said.
Cardwell, who formerly lobbied for the Citizens Action Coalition non-profit advocacy group on behalf of Indiana’s utility ratepayers, acknowledged that wind energy requires subsidies to be successful, but said other forms of energy do as well.
“There’s no form of energy out there that is really subject to free-market conditions,” he said. “There are huge subsidies for the oil industry, and there are huge subsidies for coal. Wind energy is really the new kid on the block, and the other industries really aren’t very friendly to wind energy. They want to stay in power for as long as they can.”
This week, the Sharpsville Town Council meeting ended with a discussion of the pending Prairie Breeze wind farm project, despite the fact it wasn’t on the agenda.
Town council member Rob Rupe said the council didn’t take a stance on the project, but said he personally has reservations.
“We just thought the process should slow down. A lot of us hadn’t heard about it until two weeks ago,” Rupe said. “If there’s some kind of a deadline, this should have been on the agenda in September, so we could discuss it more thoroughly.”
For many, the issue comes down to aesthetics.
Area resident Lynn Celarek said she thinks the turbines are “awe-inspiring.”
“I know they aren’t nature or anything, but I don’t see anything ugly about them,” she said. “They do break up the monotony of corn and bean fields.”
Meanwhile, Sharpsville resident Emily West feels the exact opposite.
“We wonder how many people would choose to live here if it was in the middle of a wind farm. If these county residents wanted to live in an industrial zone, they would have moved next to a factory,” she said. “If they wanted red flashing lights shining in their windows every night, they would be living upstairs from a pizzeria.”
Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.