About 100 people packed the courthouse annex meeting room Monday night for the Ridgeville public forum on the application for a conditional use permit (CUP) by Summit Ridge Energy LLC. Attendees came from as far away as Michigan to have their three minutes of testimonial.
“It was the end of peace and quiet,” said Kelly Alexander, a Michigan resident who had a turbine placed near his home. “Silence is a luxury. We’re talking about the adverse effect on health and safety. These turbines need to be placed farther away.”
After a brief description by Summit Ridge Energy LLC, the operating branch of Invenergy LLC, about possible problems and benefits of wind turbines, the floor was opened to the public for deliberation about turbine placement. Invenergy plans to install about 44 General Electric windmills that are 432 ft. high at the top of the utmost blade. Parts are expected to come from California and New York and the electricity that is generated has already been contracted to a community in Illinois. Nine landowners have agreed to allow facilities on their properties. Many speakers were in favor of the wind project, however felt the ordinance was not constructed well enough to protect the safety and well-being of the community.
“I’m not against wind, however I am against this ordinance,” said Keith Giraud of Ridgeville. “It lacks definitions and specifications in the setbacks. I am worried about the roads the equipment will travel on and where the transmission lines will go.”
The main concern for the wind project is the placement of turbines too close to homes. According to the ordinance, turbines need only be 1,000 ft. from a house, which many say is still too close. Many residents want the turbines restricted to about a mile away from residential areas, because of possible ice shedding, shadow flicker and noise pollution. Ice shedding usually occurs in the spring when turbines thaw and ice falls or flies off the blades of the tower. Shadow flicker is a complete covering in shadow from the turbine, which usually occurs at dawn and dusk. Noise from the turbines is restricted to 55 decibels, however reports from several people stated that wind, location and time of year often affect the noise level.
Summit Ridge Energy released maps with large areas sited for possible wind turbine facilities a little over a month ago, but the Monroe County Planning and Zoning Committee requested maps with more specific turbine sites. Those maps were not available to the public until Monday night, a half hour before the meeting began, which angered some residents because Invenergy has been working on the project for several years.
“The more we researched turbines, the more we felt the setbacks in the ordinance were insufficient,” said Connie Radke, owner of Hawk High Dairy in Ridgeville. “44 turbines affect everyone – not just landowners.”
Proponents for the turbines sited the positive effects they might have on the local economy. Invenergy usually hires 70-80% local contractors and a good neighbor payment will be made to residents within 1/3 mile of a tower. In total the city, county and Ridgeville residents would receive about $500,000 annually, according to Summit Ridge Energy. Wind energy is also a renewable energy and has not been proven to have any negative effects on the environment.
A public hearing for the town of Wells about the application for a conditional use permit by Summit Ridge Energy LLC is scheduled for April 9 at the Monroe County Annex Room at 7 p.m. with testimonial sign-up and map viewing beginning at 6:30 p.m.
By Keith Zukas
5 April 2007
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