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Wind farm zoning not a federal concern  

If wind farm, and or, wind turbine opponents had any doubt they are fighting an uphill battle in the debate on the Lancaster Wind Farm and EcoGrove Wind LLC, consider the opinions held by representatives at the federal level.

Contacted Friday, spokesmen for both Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Egan) steered clear of opinions on what they termed “local” issues.

Durbin was the featured speaker April 21 in Ellsworth, the new site of a wind farm that will eventually power 120,000 homes from the electricity generated by 240 turbines.

Durbin said the project is representative of “a great awakening for America and for economic development.” Entitled the Twin Groves Wind Farm, he said the project is an example that the rest of the nation needs to follow.

His Illinois Press Secretary, Christina Angarola, said the Senator “supports the technology.”

“We don’t get involved in the community debate,” Ms. Angarola said Friday.

At the ceremony celebrating the start of Twin Groves, Ms. Angarola said she heard mention a discussion of one local property owner who may have been opposed to the development.

“We assume by the time that it gets to us, it’s been studied and settled,” Ms. Angarola said.

Same goes for Mr. Manzullo, who is the congressional representative for properties where wind farms are being proposed in Stephenson County.

Press spokesman Rich Carter said Friday the congressman will not be getting involved in the county wind farm debate.

“We have no local say in it. It’s entirely a local zoning matter,” Carter said.

Both officials were outspoken supporters of wind farm technology and plan to support legislation that will create financial incentives for companies to develop new sites.

Press representatives were asked whether the incentives were really necessary. One allegation that is made by those opposed to the local projects centers on the idea that the developers are assured of making money on these “farms,” regardless of whether the wind blows. Utilities are required by law to purchase the electricity generated by these alternative power systems, assuring the developers a revenue stream.

In effect, Ms. Angarola said, companies are always going to be making a profit and there has to be an incentive for the private sector to take the risk associated with these developments. That risk is reduced through the tax legislation.

When asked about the property values of residents who are neighbors to a wind farm, Carter compared the issue to debates on eminent domain.

In other words, settling the concerns of people who live next door to a 400-foot wind turbine is comparable to property owners who lose their home to a government-supported road construction project.

However, the Congressman’s spokesman again indicated that the issue is outside the domain of federal involvement.

“(Congressman Manzullo) supports developing alternative energies, but I don’t think there is anything we can do as far as addressing property concerns. It’s strictly up to the local boards,” Carter said.

On a separate, but still related note…

Several weeks ago there was a debate raging in the Letters to the Editor column on publishing a picture of a wind turbine next to a house. The author contended that the picture was a great example of the ugliness that a 400-foot wind tower imposes on the landscape.

A few days later, I had a visitor to the office who had a different opinion.

He contended that if the picture were taken from a different angle, and if a zoom lens had not been used, the picture would lose its dramatic effect.

Both are correct.

The angle of the picture does give the impression that a 400-foot wind tower is too close, and too dominating on the landscape. A picture from directly in front of the property, with the wind turbine next to the house, would have been a more realistic presentation.

However, regardless of the angle, we’re still talking a 400 foot tower within a golf shot of a two story home. The turbine is still a dominate structure on the landscape.

By Eric Petermann
The Journal-Standard


27 April 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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