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Wind farm battle blows into Huntington

HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Apex Clean Energy hopes to invest $195 million into Huntington County by creating wind farms in the southeast part of the county.  But a group of concerned citizens is saying not so fast.

Plans for wind turbines in Huntington County are still preliminary.  The Virginia-based company is still exploring the idea.

Learn more about Apex Clean Energy’s wind farm plan

In the meantime, the group “Huntington County Concerned Citizens” has cropped up.  It hopes to influence a change in a 2009 ordinance regulating wind farms in the area.

“Our goal is to appeal to the plan commission and the Huntington County Commissioners to revise the ordinance and use more responsible language that other counties in the area have adopted,” said John Shuttleworth, president of “Huntington County Concerned Citizens.”

Shuttleworth and other members want greater restrictions on companies wanting to build wind turbines.  Changes in the law they’re hoping for include requiring:

“Huntington County Concerned Citizens is not against alternative energy at all,” explained Shuttleworth.  “What we’re for and what we’re actively seeking is a responsible ordinance.”

Learn more about “Huntington County Concerned Citizens.”

Rob Propes is the development manager for Apex Clean Energy.  He said drastic changes in the ordinance could potentially deter the project.

“We’ve been working under the belief that that would be the ordinance that would govern the project,” Propes said.

Apex Clean Energy estimates the wind farm project would provide a $110 million economic impact in Huntington County.  Despite skepticism from concerned citizens pointing at failed turbines, Propes encouraged residents to focus on a larger impact.

“What I would do is caution people to not focus on the extraordinary events but rather focus on an industry that has over 45,000 turbines successfully operating across the U.S. in hundreds of communities…providing supplemental income for landowners and tremendous economic impact in many many communities,” Propes said.

The Huntington County Plan Commission is having a public meeting on the topic Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Huntington North High School Auditorium.  Huntington County Surveyor and Plan Commissioner Jay Poe said anyone will be able to share their opinions, but several more steps need to happen before the ordinance could be changed.

Poe said at this point, he doesn’t think many farmers have agreed to lease their land for the wind farms.  He said the farmland in southeast Huntington County is very fertile.