Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

March 30, 2013

CHEERS & JEERS: 'The hidden nature of deals'

— “I live in Liberty Township, in Sharpsville, and I oppose industrial wind turbines going up in any area of Tipton County.

“At the BZA meeting on March 20, we were told that we were allowed two minutes for what we wanted to say. We were originally told we would have four minutes. I had prepared two speeches: one speech was prepared for four minutes, and another was prepared for three minutes. Since I could not whittle my speech down to two minutes and do it justice, I decided to send this in to the letters to the editor for publication.

“I assumed that where industrial wind turbine farms existed, that all of the financial, environmental and health impacts were studied, and well known prior to the approval of the laws governing them.

“I assumed that all the facts were known, all issues had been researched and resolved, and everything was disclosed in a transparent way prior to the industrial wind farm approval and potential development.

“I have found out that the reason wind farms get approved and built is because of the hidden nature of the deals, the non-transparency during the development, and by the time the public finds out and tries to organize its opposition, it’s usually too late. This has happened not only in Tipton County, but seems to be the normal procedure that all industrial wind turbine companies follow.

“My friends who live in the E.ON Wildcat Wind Farm had no idea these industrial giants were going up in their area until the day the trucks came down their road! Needless to say, they were and still are shocked that this has happened, and they had no input or decision in the matter. These folks are completely surrounded by turbines.

“I was invited to visit their property, and allowed to take videos and pictures. In one picture, alone, I could count more than 40 turbines. I could hear the whooshing sound, and the vibration could be felt on the ground. They have shadow flicker, and the lights that blink at night make them feel like there is an emergency vehicle outside their home all night long. The screeching noise drives these people up a wall.

“Four landowners who have signed leases in the Prairie Breeze wind project have told me that they regret signing, and are hoping that this situation does not proceed. These people are tied to an agreement that does not allow for them to speak out against these turbines. It’s called a gag order! Perhaps there are many others who feel the same way as those people do. Those landowners have all said they wish they would have done the proper research, because if they had, there would be no way they would want to impose the health issues not only upon themselves and their families, but upon their neighbors as well. No matter what the price.

“I have spent at least 600 hours researching in the last three months. I’ve looked at peer-reviewed studies, read various legal documents, meeting minutes, potential industrial wind turbine maps, and the entire juwi application regarding the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm. I have had personal contact with many citizens against the Benton County wind farms, some of whom have leases. I would like to suggest to everyone to do your own research.”

Disappointed in Tipton officials

Stan Jones of Tipton sends this Jeer for the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals and the county commissioners:

“I was disappointed that I only was allowed two minutes to speak at the BZA meeting March 20, instead of the four minutes that were scheduled. I thought it interesting that, with the exception of maybe five or so of the ‘for’ group, they used less than a minute, but almost every ‘opposed’ speaker was stopped short and not allowed to finish.

“I applaud the two members who spoke up and voted against the juwi application. Mr. Acres’ comment, that he wished he had done his homework on the Windfall project and that the whole process is wrong, spoke volumes against the way the whole wind farm issue has transpired.

“Mr. Planalp’s insistence that juwi give a guarantee against property value loss should have been the deal breaker. NO ONE has the right to build or conduct business on their property if it adversely affects my property, whether it is value lost or use of land. While the 1,500 foot setback from property lines for the Prairie Breeze project will protect personal land use, it does nothing for the folks in the Windfall project.

“I am disappointed in the other three members who, even though they asked good questions, failed to capitalize on the lack of answers from juwi’s ‘expert’ witnesses.

“One of the BZA members asked about guarantees after the life of the turbines, or if juwi sells or goes bankrupt, what happens to the towers. Juwi stated that there are provisions in the ordinance to guarantee the decommissioning of the towers. But in the event that juwi sells or goes bankrupt, that could fall back on the taxpayers of Tipton County.

“When asked about abandoned towers, juwi stated there are no abandoned towers in the U.S. A quick Web search of ‘abandoned wind turbines’ provides numerous hits on articles stating there are more than 14,000 in the U.S. and 4,600 of those are in California, where juwi’s ‘expert’ witness/professor lives. A picture of the Tehachapin Wind Farm in California shows wind turbines with rusty towers and blades missing.

“While disappointed in the BZA, my greatest disappointment was Monday morning when the elected officials of Tipton County failed to act on a request from the public to back up and re-evaluate the wind ordinance.

“A simple motion to authorize a moratorium on the wind ordinance and then instruct the Planning Commission to report back with new recommendations or a rewritten ordinance would prevent other wind turbine companies from submitting applications and then going through the same flawed, secretive processes all over again. Instead, the commissioners failed to take any action, only saying, take the issue up with the Plan Commission.

“I don’t care if the commissioners are for or against the wind farms, or any other issue presented to them. By the nature of their elected position, they have an obligation to act on the needs of the county. In my opinion, which is mine to keep or share as I wish, their inaction to address this issue states they condone the turmoil and division caused by the wind farm issues in Tipton County.

“As I told them when I spoke Monday at the commissioners’ meeting, ‘I do not know much about the processes of county government.’ But, I am learning and I have not missed a general election since 1976.”

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