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Wisconsin farmer rues the day he signed wind farm deal

These are quotes from Gary Steinich, Steinich Farms, Inc., of Cambria, Wis., in June 2011.

“By signing that contract, I signed away the control of the family farm, and it’s the biggest regret I have ever experienced and will ever experience. We had a peaceful community here before the developer showed up, but no more. Now it’s neighbor against neighbor.

“I spend a lot of sleepless nights wishing I could turn back the clock. Now corn and bean prices are up. The money from the turbines doesn’t balance out our crop loss from land taken out of production. I would not sign that contract today. I can tell you from first-hand experience, once you sign that contract, you will not have a chance to turn back.”

To get Mr. Steinich to sign, the developer told him that he was the one holding up the project. In later discussions with his neighbors, he found out that, in fact, he was the very first farmer to sign up – a falsehood commonly used by wind developers.

Mr. Steinich was told that the turbines would be in a straight line like the ones in Monfort, Wis., which has 20 turbines that are about 300 feet tall, taking up very little farmland. The developer sold the rights to the project to a Wisconsin utility, and everything changed. The turbines planned for the project wouldn’t be like the ones in Monfort. They are going to be 400 feet tall, and there are going to be 90 of them. They aren’t going to be in a straight row. They’ll be sited in the spots the developer felt were best, including in the middle of fields with access roads cutting diagonally across good farmland.

Go to betterplan.squarespace.com/wisconsin-farmer-regrets-saying-yes-to-turbines to see the whole sad article and take warning.

By Sue McGinn, Tampico