Despite the recent promotion and discussions about the benefits of wind energy to the Cherokee County area, there are still many residents opposed to having wind turbines on Lookout Mountain and possible one in the Cherokee County Rock Village area.
A standing room only crowed gathered for a recent meeting of the Cherokee County Commission as residents let their feelings be known. One person on the agenda was Leesburg Mayor Ed Mackey who said there were too many “red flags” and he would prefer leaving the mountain alone.
Mackey feels the wind turbines would end up costing local taxpayers and also expressed fears that the company might abandon them if they quite working.
“I ask the commission to take your opinion, take what you can get out of it and deny the acquisition of a right of way across county property,” said Mackey.
During the work session, Pam Vias, a Georgia resident, presented the commission with information she gathered a few years ago when she was asked to organize a team to study wind energy from Chattooga and Walker Counties.
“I want to say first of all thank you to the commission,” said Vias. “I appreciate a few minutes in front of the audience here.”
“That team was to investigate industrial wind,” said Vias. “It was a large company with that wanted to put over 100 turbines on Lookout Mountain. So I got a lot of information in many aspects things you are going to look at. I thought it would be a good idea to share this with you and give you some of the highlights we gathered and these are from experts around the world.”
“The county commissioners in Chattooga County and Walker County used some of this information in making their decisions and I thought it would be of value to you,” said Vias.
“There were a couple of things in particular that I wanted to make sure there was kind of a reality check and there was an awareness concerning the actual scale of those turbines against the typical land works,” said Vias “And also the fact that you are in one of the highest lightning strike regions in the country. The wind chart puts you in a low wind category. When you look at all of those you have to ask why is anybody looking at us here and what kind of production can they get?”
“I know in Chattooga County and Walker County, the concern became the promise to ensure our constituents,” said Vias.
“We considered the economics, jobs, national quotes on those an also safety and health,” said Vias. “Wind turbines fail. It is a fact. There are failures all over the world. There are also thousands of wind turbines that have been abandoned because they weren’t able to produce what was expected.”
“There needs to be guarantees for you as a community that you are not going to be left with these turbines in your neighborhood,” said Vias. “Massachusetts has just voted their turbines out in a very short time. They voted them out and they are having to de-commission them themselves and it is costing them millions.”
“The other things is property values,” said Vias. “Many impact studies and real estate studies show that real estate values do not go up around turbines, not at all. Some people can’t sell at all.”
“I would just say to understand the true cost to your community for you and for your taxpayers,” said Vias. “If the wind company goes bankrupt, what happens? How can you protect yourselves if the results are unsatisfactory and the results aren’t there that are expected, who is going to decommission it.? You an protect yourself there.”
“Just listen to those who have gone before you,” said Vias. “There has been environmental damage, financial damage, physical and emotional damage to people and places.”
Kenneth Henry, a resident of Cherokee County Road 1, presented for the commission’s consideration, a petition opposing placing the transmission lines for the wind turbine project in his area and also Cherokee County Roads 36 and 3 which is considered the Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway area.
“We beg you,” said Henry. “I’ve got 41 signatures of my neighbors and the people that live on this road. Personally, 17 years ago I built my house at the foot of that mountain with windows all across the front all facing the mountain. Every time one of those turbines goes around it is going to be in my front door and my bedroom.”
“People and turbines do not mix,” said Henry. “Everything I have read has said no one likes them in their front door or their back door or in their yard or across the street. So I am coming and telling you. They don’t want them moving into my neighborhood. We have been told it is private property and they can build what they want to.”
A public forum is scheduled Saturday, April 13, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce meeting room on the campus of Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee.
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