By Michael Rucker
For a few years now, our company, juwi Wind North America, has been studying Tipton County’s viability to site a wind farm. There are four major factors that form the basis for bringing a wind farm to the county – wind speed, access to uncongested transmission lines, a market to sell wind generated energy and a supportive community.
In 2009, we began extensive studies to ensure that these criteria were satisfied before moving forward with a Conditional Use Permit application to the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals. The result is our proposal to site the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in Tipton County, a $300 million capital investment.
More important than our needs are the needs of Tipton County. We moved forward with an unprecedented public education process seeking your input and to share the facts on the Prairie Breeze proposal. What we found were issues unique to Tipton County, but also issues common to communities across the country.
Our conversation with the community has allowed us to do quite a bit of listening. We are grateful to residents that have taken time to attend our open houses, our telephone town hall, our Chamber of Commerce forums, School Board presentations, speak to our outreach team at your doors, and read through our mailings. Your feedback has been valuable. We have learned much about Tipton’s needs and specifically altered our project based on your input.
For instance, juwi has voluntarily increased residential turbine setbacks beyond that required by the Tipton County ordinance, which was put in place prior to our interest in Tipton County.
We learned of Tipton’s needs including the challenge to keep young, talented generations here to start a career and a family; the impact of property values hit hard by the economy (not a wind farm); the fear of seeing critical school funding in jeopardy and the challenge to preserve a successful agricultural industry while balancing it with a new economy attractive to outside investment.
We believe, based on the factual benefits, that the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, will be part of the solution for Tipton County. Consistent with our fact based approach to sharing information about Prairie Breeze, and as we approach the Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing next Wednesday, we want to review how the decision to accept juwi into the community is actually made.
The decision revolves around four criteria:
1. Does Prairie Breeze conform to the Tipton County Zoning Ordinance?
2. Will the project support the health, safety and welfare of Tipton County residents?
3. Will the use and value of adjacent property be supported by the project?
4. Does the project promote the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan?
The factual answer to all of these is, Yes. Please join us at the public hearing next week at Tipton High School to learn why. We ask for your support based on the facts. In the meantime, if you would like additional information, then please visit us at www.Prairie BreezeWindFarm.com
Michael Rucker is Chief Executive Officer of juwi Wind North America.