MUNCIE – Property owners in eastern Delaware County are leasing their land for a potential wind farm, which should come as no surprise.
E.ON Climate & Renewables North America already has built the Wildcat Wind Farm in neighboring Madison County, and NextEra Energy Resources is expected to break ground this spring on the Bluff Point wind farm in neighboring Jay and Randolph counties.
Responding to interest from a wind energy developer, the Delaware-Muncie Metropolitan Plan Commission has been drafting an ordinance to regulate wind turbine installations.
“I think they’re serious,” Commission Director Marta Moody said of the developer, whom she declined to identify. “That’s based on the leases they said they have entered into.”
Delaware County Commissioner Larry Bledsoe identified the developer as E.ON.
The commission is scheduled to conduct a public meeting on the wind farm ordinance on April 4.
A commission-sponsored meeting to gather public feedback on the proposed ordinance before then is planned sometime in March, though the date and place have not been finalized.
The developer already has seen and commented on the ordinance.
“The main spot is east of Muncie,” Moody told the commission recently. “That’s where the wind resources are.”
She told The Star Press the area under consideration for development is Delaware and Liberty townships, which include Albany, DeSoto, Selma and the eastern edge of Muncie.
The elements of a wind farm ordinance typically include appearance, clearance, height, lighting, noise standards, setbacks to create space between wind turbines and houses and roads, decommissioning and site restoration, spacing and density of wind turbines, and shadow flicker, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Shadow flicker refers to shadows cast on the ground and surrounding structures by rotating wind turbine blades. Ordinances can mitigate or prevent shadow flicker on roadways or occupied buildings on non-participating properties.
DeKalb County in northeastern Indiana (county seat: Auburn) recently took ordinance action that could dissuade wind farm developers from locating there. DeKalb County Commissioners voted to change the county’s setback distance between windmills and property lines to 1,300 feet from 400 feet.
Commissioner Don Grogg says the property line change brings DeKalb County closer to the industry standard. He also says he doubts any developers will want to build wind farms now in the county north of Fort Wayne.
The required distance between a windmill and a house or other structure in DeKalb County remains at 1,500 feet.
A citizens group formed in DeKalb County to oppose wind farms.
Moody said the draft ordinance for Delaware County was not written with the intent to discourage wind farms.
“It’s not written to keep them out,” she said.
The ordinance calls for wind turbines to set back at least 1,000 feet from a residence and 2,000 feet from a suburb, city or town.
Moody called the ordinance very similar to those enacted by other Indiana counties that already have wind farms.
Bledsoe is supportive of wind farms, in part because they are compatible with farming.
“They produce renewable energy without creating hazardous emissions and waste,” he said. “Noise and aesthetics will be a concern to some, but setbacks and other restrictions can address these issues, making these farms a part of our community.”
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