PRINCETON – The future development of wind farms in Bureau County could be up in the air.
After hearing complaints at Tuesday night’s meeting from Ohio residents Todd and Deb Anderson about the Big Sky wind farm, the Bureau County Board discussed the need to re-evaluate the county’s zoning ordinances, especially in regards to wind farms, as well as the possible need to place a moratorium on any future building of wind farms in Bureau County.
In his comments to the board, Todd Anderson described the ongoing problem he’s having with television reception at his home because of nearby Big Sky turbines.
“It (reception problem) seemed to correlate with turning on the wind turbines. It was off and on in the beginning, but toward the end of the month, by the time they had most of them on, it became pretty much a 24/7 problem,” Anderson said. “I used to get probably 10 or 12 channels until they started turning them on. Now I get one or two, and that’s on a good day.”
Anderson said he has contacted Big Sky and Suzlon turbine blade officials about the problem. They admit there is a problem. He’s been told a three-week study needed to be done, followed by another three-week study. Anderson said he is now dealing with Joe Walters, local site manager, whom Anderson felt was trying to get the problem corrected within the next week or so.
In his recommendation, the county board should “shut down Big Sky to get their attention” and also “tighten up” its agreements with wind farms, holding them accountable for any problems, Anderson said.
Later in the meeting, county board member Marc Wilt also addressed the county’s zoning ordinances, saying he thinks the board needs to do a total overhaul of the ordinances, especially in the area dealing with wind farms.
“Judging by the letters that I have received, the phone calls I have received, the people that have stopped me on the street, I think our ordinances are a total failure in protecting the people of this county,” Wilt said. “I think we need to have a total overhaul of our ordinances that pertain to windmills. Two other counties have issued moratoriums and have stopped issuing permits to wind farms, and I think it’s high time we took a long look at what we have done to this county and what may happen in the future.”
In response, the county’s zoning officer Kris Donarski said any complaint received concerning a wind farm is sent to the company involved, which must take action within two weeks. In the Anderson complaint against Big Sky, the wind farm developers have taken action by hiring a consultant to conduct a study, Donarski said.
The board also discussed ongoing litigation with Iberdrola Renewables over the road agreement for the Providence Heights wind farm south of Tiskilwa. There have also been problems with wind turbines and meteorological towers not erected in the approved locations, board member Joe Bassetti said.
After further discussion, board member Marshann Entwhistle suggested prohibiting future wind farm development in Bureau County until the county can solve the various problems and study the impact of wind farms in Bureau County.
“I really think that this county needs to put a moratorium on any future wind farms going into this county,” Entwhistle said. “If you drive around this county, it’s really looking pretty bad.”
Board member Dan Rabe said the board needs to consider the taxing dollars brought into the county by the wind farms, as well as the money earned by the landowners for renting property to the wind farm developers. In response, Wilt said the county board is not to take financial impact into consideration when dealing with zoning issues.
Looking to the future, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann said the implementation of any moratorium, whether temporary or prolonged, would could not be addressed at Tuesday’s meeting but would need to be placed on a future agenda for discussion.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding