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Survey supports wind plan

Residents might back the proposed wind project in Union Township, but it still faces a fight for the land.

Seventy-three percent of voters in the Evansville Water and Light service area are in favor of the three-turbine project and 12 percent opposed, according to a survey conducted by the developer.

The survey, commissioned by EcoEnergy, was done from April 14 to 16 with 349 voters in the service area. The survey carries a 4.6 percent margin of error.

All breakdowns of the numbers show a strong majority in favor of the proposal, said Curt Bjurlin, project developer for EcoEnergy. Bjurlin presented the survey results and other project information at an Evansville Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.

One chamber member questioned if the survey asked residents if they would support the project if a turbine were placed within 1,000 feet of their house.

Bjurlin said the “short poll” did not get into those specifics but said about 89 Union Township residents were contacted, and those results showed 72 percent in support of the project with 8 percent opposed.

EcoEnergy proposes putting three 1.5 megawatt turbines west of Evansville. The power produced would be supplied through Wisconsin Public Power to Evansville Water and Light customers. It is one of five community-based wind projects WPPI has in the works.

Bjurlin also presented the project’s financial impact to the community. The project will bring in more than $3 million in new investment to the community: $423,000 during the construction phase, $1.59 million during the operations phase and $1.26 million in lease payments and taxes.

Four landowners around the County C project site have signed commitments to the project, Bjurlin said.

The wind ordinance proposed for the town, however, would eliminate the project because not enough land would be left after the proposed half-mile setbacks from homes, Bjurlin has said.

The next step is a public hearing on the proposed ordinance at the plan commission’s May 29 meeting. EcoEnergy will continue to work with the town, Bjurlin said, “and we’ll be eagerly watching what occurs with the ordinance.”

EcoEnergy hasn’t made a plan for the future of the project if the half-mile setback is approved, he said.

While many factors play into the project’s timeline, Bjurlin said the company would like to start construction next year or by 2010.

By Gina Duwe


8 May 2008