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Adams Co. residents sound off on proposed wind farm

HETTINGER – A proposed new wind farm in the Adams County townships of Duck Creek and Holt had both proponents and opponents voicing concerns Monday at a public hearing in front of the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The purpose for the hearing at the Adams County Courthouse was to gauge public input from county residents on the subject of a conditional use and building permit being sought by Thunder Spirit Wind LLC, part of Wind Works Power Corp.

Developers say the project – which would place up to 75 wind turbines in Adams County – would supply landowners with an $800,000-plus annual lease payment pot to split and pump close to $650,000 in tax revenue into the county coffers each year.

Calling the county a “a great place for a wind farm,” Wind Works representative Dan Albano made his case before about 60 onlookers. But not everyone was impressed as several hearing participants warned against the possible negative effects of a wind farm on county residents living nearby.

“We’ve lived here for 35 years,” said Duck Creek resident Bill Elder. “We chose to live here for the beauty of the land, the peace and the privacy. I could not be more opposed to this wind farm. This wind farm would be an eyesore and the noise from these farms is unbelievable. Wind power is a failed energy.”

Though Elder and others are in opposition to the wind farm – which will cost an estimated $350 million to complete – other county residents applauded the idea of a major energy project in Adams County, which has watched neighboring counties to the north reap huge economic benefit from the state’s oil boom.

“I support the project,”resident Larry Slater said. “It would be good for cattle because they like the shade provided and I think it would make a tourist attraction for Adams County.”

Besides approval from Adams County, the wind farm would need to be given a green light by the Public Service Commission, which is scheduled to host a hearing in Hettinger next month. Tying in through the Midwest Independent Operators System grid, power would be transmitted through a Montana-Dakota Utilities substation near Hettinger, said MDU spokesman Mark Hanson, who added that an interconnection agreement for the project has already been agreed upon.

“I think more important than the individual, the neighborhood, the town or the county is the direction we’re going burning fossil fuels,” said Arlene Johnson of Hettinger. “I would like to get more information on how this would impact our world in the future. I’m not talking about whether it would be ugly or whether it would kill birds, I’m talking about our people and our resources.”

The meeting ended just before 9 p.m. with the commission deciding against a vote. The matter will come before the commission at its next meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

Bruce Secrest summed up his thoughts in one short sentence when it was his turn at the podium.

“I’m not opposed to the project per se,” Secrest said. “I just don’t want it in my backyard.”