Will a commercial wind farm with its towering windmills and whirring blades soon be coming near you? The answer is “Yes,” if current plans are brought to completion.
A plan in process for at least a couple of years will soon come to a point of decision-making by various structures within DeKalb County government.
My intent is to increase public awareness and to bring about greater transparency in county governance and to encourage all county residents to become informed and participate in the decision-making process.
Following is a summary of what I know at this time:
1. The company seeking to build the WECS, (Wind Energy Conversion System) or “wind farm,” in DeKalb County is Eosolamericas with home offices in Madrid, Spain, and national offices in Miami, Fla.
2. Eosolamericas is represented in Indiana by Roy Roelke, vice-president, Municipal Services of Grubb & Ellis/Cressy & Everett (a commercial real estate brokerage) in Mishawaka.
3. A test tower was built by the company north of C.R. 4, between C.R. 19 and C.R. 23. It was built in late 2009 or early 2010. Its purpose is to gather data on wind currents. It is said that the findings from the collected information are positive.
4. It is believed that the company is concentrating its efforts to locate towers along a corridor reaching from the DeKalb County line on the north, southward along C.R. 23 to perhaps as far as S.R. 8. An ordinance, however, will govern all of the county.
5. The company has been soliciting land lease contracts from owners along this corridor for over a year. They reportedly have well over a thousand acres under contract already. Newly elected County Commissioner Randy Deetz stated that he signed a lease contract for his property.
6. The value of such contracts is said to be in the range of $5,000 per year plus a net-profit-sharing plan. Some landowners are said to have signed several contracts. It is also heard that there is a so-called “good neighbor” contract available to neighboring landowners valued at $1,000 per year in return for their “acceptance” of the wind tower being near their property. It is said that the length of these contracts is for 25 years with a renewable clause for another 25 for a total of 50 years out.
7. The company had first approached officials in Steuben County and the company decided NOT to go forward because Steuben had a zoning ordinance in place governing wind farms. You can find the ordinance at: http://www.in.gov/oed/files/Steuben_County_Wind_Ordinance.pdf.
8. Star Distributed Energy, the parent company of Gemini Power Solutions, which is building the solar complex near Waterloo, has a subsidiary named Westco Wind, which is seeking to place wind turbines in DeKalb County.
9. DeKalb County currently has NO guidance on commercial wind towers within its Unified Development Ordinance. A draft ordinance was opened for public comment, the time period of which closes on Monday. The draft can be found at: http://www.kpcnews.com/webdocs/WindEnergySystemOrdinancePublicReview.pdf
9. A representative team of the DeKalb 9-12 Group developed considerable research and shared its findings with administrators of the Plan Commission and the DeKalb County Health Department. None of the information submitted was reflected in the draft ordinance.
10. Representatives from the Whitley County Concerned Citizens will be speaking on their efforts with wind farms at the DeKalb 9-12 Group meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Military History Museum.
Citizens of DeKalb County need to become more engaged in these public matters, which affect us all.
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