DeKalb County commissioners are said to finalize their ordinance on wind energy on Thursday, but the Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County fear that will happen before everyone in the community is informed.
When it comes to a 125 proposed wind turbines in DeKalb County, nothing is final. But if it ever gets to that point, Sonya Cloyd, and the Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County (CCDC), want the community to be prepared.
Although there’s been talk for the past two years about a proposed wind farm in DeKalb County, a lot of residents here say they feel they’ve been left in the dark. Cloyd says she had no clue about a wind farm until six weeks ago.
However, CCDC members say 84 families in DeKalb County have already received money and signed letters of intent for the wind company to build turbines on their property.
“The commissioners of DeKalb County have kind of turned a deaf ear on the citizens. We feel like we’ve not been heard very much up to this point,” said Bill Hartman, a member of CCDC.
“We don’t think that people really realize the impact it’s going to have on our community,” said Cloyd. “It is huge concern and it has so many different aspects.”
Cloyd says that impact would be on property values and the overall safety and well being of the community.
“It’s a pristine area and it’s going to change a lot of things for a lot of people,” said James Bay, also a member of CCDC.
To further their effort in communicating with the community, Cloyd says CCDC members posted “No Windfarm” signs in their front yards, but they keep getting stolen.
“The opposition, I’m assuming, is taking the signs and we can’t even get that word out to the community about what’s going on,” she said.
That’s why CCDC posted a bill board along US 6, by the Marathon petroleum factory near the US 27 and I-69 interchange, with a phone number (260-233-1365) to get information.
“We are not against alternative energies, however people need to be informed about what’s going on,” said Bay.
Although many say the wind farm will bring economic benefits, the CCDC says residents in DeKalb County will have to pay 35 percent in subsidies for the turbines and their construction on top of compensating for tax breaks granted to the wind company. Hartman says that raises the burden to 40 or 50 percent for tax payers. According to his research, Hartman says the turbines will only produce 25 percent of the energy of electricity but will cost two to three times more.
“It’s mandated by the federal government that local utilities buy this over-priced, unreliable source of energy, average it into their other sources, and then pass the increase onto the citizens,” he said.
The original wind energy ordinance proposed a setback of 400 ft. from a property line. The current draft of the ordinance now proposes a setback of 1,500 ft. from a home in addition to the 400 ft. setback from a property line. Upon further research, the CCDC says they now want to change the overall setback to 2,640 ft.—that’s about half a mile.
“There have been several studies done on how debris and ice has flown over 1,700 ft. [from the blades]. At that distance there should be no safety concerns for the citizens,” said Cloyd.
In addition to the billboard, CCDC has set up a Facebook page called, “No Wind Farms in DeKalb County,” petitioned to add two non-elected citizens to the Wind Turbine Investigating Committee, and written numerous letters to the commissioners. Cloyd says the addresses and phone numbers of the commissioners are listed on the Facebook page.
“Please call them and please mail them letters and let them know what the concerns are,” she said. “It’s really important that the citizens speak out.”
Ultimately, however, the final decision on the wind energy ordinance is up to the commissioners.
“Since we won’t be able to have any input at this particular meeting, we want to have a presence so they know there’s a lot of people that are really concerned and not very happy about this situation,” said Hartman.
The Wind Turbine Investigating Committee public meeting will be held Thursday, Sept. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Courthouse.