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Consumer group enters the wind farm battle; CAC claims opponents using false information

A state consumer rights organization is claiming that wind farm opponents in Howard and Tipton counties are spreading misinformation about wind energy.

Development of wind farms in the two counties have been a topic of heated conversation between opponents and proponents of wind farms.

E.ON Climate & Renewables is planning two phases of the Wildcat Wind Farm in Howard and Grant counties.

juwi Wind has received approval for a planned wind farm in northwestern Tipton County and is currently requesting modification of setback requirements imposed by the Board of Zoning Appeals and acceptance of a property value guarantee plan.

The Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development and Howard County Concerned Citizens are opposed to the wind farms. The two groups are seeking changes in setback requirements and moratoriums on further wind farm development.

The Citizens Action Council sent a letter to the Tipton County Plan Commission Thursday urging them to base discussions about wind energy in the comprehensive plan that is based on scientific research.

“As the leader of an Indiana-based organization that prides itself in providing factual, authenticated information, we urge the Tipton Plan Commission to ask for proof and evidence to support the off-the-wall, unsubstantiated statements by those being fed information from national organizations with self-serving interests,” Kerwin Olson, executive director of the CAC, wrote.

Olson said Friday the organization is supportive of wind energy in Indiana.

“What we have going on in Indiana, the first group popped up two years ago,” Olson said of organized resistance to wind energy. “Look at their websites, the claims being made are not factual.”

He said some there could be some validity to health claims, adding the claims of Wind Syndrome illness are false.

Jeff Hoover with the CRD said he agrees that the information being provided should be backed up by scientific research and empirical data.

“We have provided scientific and empirical data,” he said. “That data shows property value loss and health and safety concerns. Every group has the right to their own opinion.”

Hoover said it’s time for the elected and appointed officials in Tipton County to realize a majority of people don’t want industrial wind farms in the county. He said at the Plan Commission meeting the opponents of the wind farms substantially outnumbered the supporters of wind energy.

Olson said all the data indicates that wind power is cheaper than electricity from a new coal-fired plant.

“Look at Benton and White counties,” he said. “There has been significant tax benefits and development taking place.”

Olson said claims that property values decrease around a wind farm are not true and property values may increase.

“It’s too early to know,” he said of the impact in Indiana.

Olson said the CAC is unsure of where the information being provided to elected officials in Howard, Tipton and Delaware counties is coming from.

Wind farm opponents maintain the wind turbines impact the health of local residents, lower property values and disrupt the rural lifestyle by noise and shadow flicker, which is caused by the turning of the blades.

Olson said another unknown is how the anti-wind organizations are being funded. Olson said a lot of information is coming from Wind-Action.org and the funding source can’t be determined.

“We don’t doubt that there are concerns,” he said. “But the claims should be backed up by scientific research and empirical data. We would question the motives of those opposed to wind energy.”