A landowner near the site of a proposed wind turbine said he is not the problem in an ongoing dispute with the Erie School District and the company in charge of the project.
‘Johnson Controls ought to rectify their mistake,’ said farmer Luke Besse.
Mr. Besse’s property adjoins the site where the school district wanted to install a $3.5 million wind turbine. He’s seeking compensation because the turbine’s blades will go over his property’s airspace.
Mr. Besse said he blames Johnson Controls for its work and planning on the project.
‘I’d like to resolve this so they can go ahead with the project,’ he said. ‘I’m negotiating with my lawyer. I can’t tell you what’s going on. I think there will be something resolved.’
He said representatives from Johnson Controls met with him recently, ‘bought me lunch and offered me less money than the lunch cost, like I was some kind of a hick. It was an embarrassment.
‘I made an offer to them,’ Mr. Besse said. ‘The ball’s in their court. I don’t have an agenda. I got this thrown at me. I’m not against wind energy. I don’t think it ought to hang over my fence 95 feet. Wouldn’t you have come to the adjacent landowner before this thing went up?’
Approved by the school board in the spring of 2006, the turbine project is expected to save the district some $4 million in energy costs over the next 30 years. The school district would be the only one in the country to power all its buildings – high school, middle school, elementary school and annex – solely by wind energy.
The 1.2 megawatt tower was expected to be in place by last fall, but there were several delays, including difficulty getting the turbine parts.
Kari Pfisterer, a Johnson company spokesperson at its Milwaukee headquarters, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
Erie School superintendent Mike Ryan said there is a possibility Johnson may simply look at a new site farther from the Besse property. If that comes to pass, he estimated moving the turbine base would cost an additional $150,000 to $200,000, with Johnson assuming that cost.
Mr. Ryan said he would update the school board on construction plans at its Nov. 26 meeting.
By Stephen Elliott
30 October 2007
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