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Wind farm controversy in Ogle County

Some Ogle County farmers try their hand at advertising to stop the possible development of wind farms. An ad was placed in the Mt. Morris newspaper by Bill Welty, a long-time farmer from Chana. The message is loud and clear, but the publicity sparked some debate.

Bill explains, “We went to the meetings, don’t agree with the wind farms for a long list of reasons and several farmers joined together and we’re out trying to educate other farmers in the area to convince them not to do the wind farms. Not sign leases with the developers.”

And they decided to do more than just go door to door. “All my research has been on the internet. There’s just scads of info off the internet.”

But Bob Vogl, a wind farm expert, says the internet isn’t the most reliable source of information and believes renewable energy sources like wind farms are a growing and unavoidable reality. “The reason this area’s optimal for wind farms is we’re very close to the grid, we’ve got a decent wind resource and there’s a large population living in this area so how do you meet the demand?”

He admits there are possible trade-offs for nearby property owners, but says wind farms have a good track record. “Some areas they’re very welcome. They’re very happy to have the increased tax base and the revenue from that.”

But many Ogle County farmers say it’s not about the money. Welty says, “From a farmer’s standpoint that’s pretty small money. Most farmers, four or five thousand dollars, they’re spending more than that on insurance costs, fuel costs, repair costs.”

Welty says even if he can’t stop the development of wind farms in Ogle County, his goal is to convince the county board to set much tougher rules for companies looking to build wind farms in the area and to give property owners larger incentives.

By Katie Crowther
13 News


3 August 2007