We have all heard how the proposed “wind farms” are going to produce the renewable energy that will help us for generations. No one disputes that we need to look to alternative sources for energy. But in the case of wind farms in Stephenson County, there are some issues to be aware of:
For one, this newspaper has twice printed a picture that is totally disproportional to reality. The old-time windmills were 40 to 50 feet tall, whereas the turbine in the background stands 300 feet tall with the blade in a vertical position. The blades themselves are over two times longer than the relic windmills were tall. Compare that to the turbines proposed for Lancaster Township, which will reach 399 feet high with a blade span of 286 feet in diameter (a football field is 300 feet long). Also, understand that there are several hundred gallons of oil used in these turbines for cooling and lubricating them so they, too, rely on fossil fuels. Another is, before we allow these wind facilities to be built here, the electricity they generate does not offer any savings for the residents, schools or businesses of our county. ComEd, which is not requesting but must purchase this power, will transfer it to other locations and pass those extra costs onto all customers. Also, a concern not clearly understood by many is the tax revenue to be generated. This revenue is based from the property of the real estate that the towers stand on. The turbine structures, worth several million dollars, will be considered personal property and not subject to or provide any tax revenue.
Yet another issue is that the companies making all of the promises now will not be the companies to fulfill them at the time of decommissioning. So once the turbines become either mechanically or technologically obsolete, these companies have funds for only tearing out the access roads and covering soil over the 48 foot cement pad AFTER the landowner tears down the tower. Truthfully, what landowner, especially the several non-occupants, will be able or willing to bear that cost? These towers will be on our landscape until they finally fall, so if we really want to look out for the next generations, we shouldn’t allow these facilities to build because it will be our kids or their kids handed the burden of removing them.
The biggest concern for all of us is that any of the “payment promises” made by the wind-farm corporations today will cease when they sell or transfer the facility to a new owner. That’s the part of the business that you don’t hear about and how the profits are made for these types of corporations. It is then, when they “sell the farm” that we are all stuck with these enormous structures scattered about our landscape and the cost burden of tearing them down falls upon the individual landowner.
The objectors to these facilities aren’t critics of renewable energy or radical activists. They are residents of Stephenson County – they are active farmers, working families, retired couples, all who enjoy the peaceful serenity of country living. They are concerned for the health, safety and welfare of their families, their property and the future surrounded by all the uncertain affects of the wind-farm business.
Now, our County Board has the decision in their hands. A decision not to be made in haste since it will impact everyone for a very long time. A decision where short-term solutions cannot out weigh the long-term affects of changing the county landscape.
Tom and Shelly Moyer
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