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June 12, 2013

June 12, 2013: Letters to the editor

County population too big for turbines

I am a citizen of eastern Howard County and have attended the last three Howard County commissioners’ meetings. Two meetings were so crowded that many had to stand. In all three, the room was packed. The major topic has been whether industrial wind turbines should come to eastern Howard County. I want to give you, the people who comprise “the court of public opinion,” a synopsis of what I’ve heard and concluded from the meetings.

The meetings have been overwhelmingly composed of opponents who live near the proposed wind “farm” in eastern Howard County, including me. Petitions were presented with hundreds of signatures opposing the wind installation. In my neighborhood I found only one household out of at least 25 that wants the wind farm. The opposition has repeatedly told the commissioners that we do not oppose alternative energy, but defend our quality of life. When the commissioners were asked if they would like to have a wind farm 1,250 feet from their residences, they were dead silent and gave no reply.

Only a few spoke in favor of the proposed wind farm, and all but one expect to receive financial compensation. Most are leaseholders with E.ON,  and one was an E.ON employee. Another who spoke for the wind “farm” has never actually lived by one. As we opponents are basing opinions on negative information, she is believing positive information. If the opposition is right, her quality of life will also be harmed. By then, however, it will be too late for everyone.

In my research I’ve found profuse negative testimonials from those living near wind turbines worldwide. People describe wind turbines ruining their quality of life. Many have testified these negative effects are cumulative, and these testimonials were presented to the commissioners. But they still want to hear from people in our area.

This is impossible since Howard County has no wind farm yet. Names and phone numbers of people living near Wildcat Phase I were given to the commissioners. These residents are willing to talk about their negative experiences, but only one thus far has been called.

A leaseholder at one meeting said he had the best interest of the county at heart when he signed his contract, hoping for more revenue in the county — even though he did not relish farming under the wind turbines. He encouraged the commissioners to “do the right thing” for all concerned.

A Tipton County leaseholder admitted that farmers have always gotten along financially and could get along in the future with or without wind farm revenue. Yet another leaseholder tried to debunk a DVD made available by the opposition. But he failed to mention the study he was “debunking” stated at the end that it’s “positive” findings were inconclusive.

One commissioner stated he was not a proponent of wind energy; he signed the contract in 2009 to help the county’s economy, as Kokomo was rated “a dying city”. He explained that Howard County has since recovered economically, which means it recovered without wind farm revenues. Another commissioner did not sign the contract because his company has done work for E.ON. The third commissioner stated he was not in office at the time. These are puzzling statements from people who seem to support a wind installation for our county and are in control of making it happen.

Most of those in favor of the Wildcat wind project either are under contract with E.ON or are not at risk of having to live near them. These same people have said other Indiana counties with wind “farms” have been surveyed and have given positive feedback. An ignored fact is that Benton County has one-tenth the population of Howard County. One can drive for miles in Benton County without seeing a house.

We believe Howard County is too heavily populated for wind turbines and have respectfully asked our commissioners to change the setbacks to comply with the World Health Organization standards. This is fair and reasonable, as these standards were determined by studies of wind energy installations all over the globe. We believe that if one of us has our quality of life infringed upon by the proposed wind turbines, it is too many.

As they become educated about the repercussions of wind farms, more people have joined our fight to change the county setbacks. For more information see www.easternhowardwind.com.

Cherie Weeks

Greentown

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