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Out Here: A low-key effort

If you live in Rock Falls, Sterling or Dixon, wind turbines are not an issue.

Out in the country, the debate over wind farms is often raging.

It pits neighbor against neighbor – those who want turbines to get some extra money, and those who don’t want to be anywhere near them, citing the noise, the shadow flicker and the impact on scenery.

A few months ago, Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy bought Mainstream Renewable Power’s planned wind farm, known as Green River, in Lee, Whiteside and Bureau counties.

In Whiteside and Lee counties, Mainstream received permits for turbines, while Bureau County’s zoning board rejected the company’s proposal.

Geronimo’s other Bureau County wind farm is Walnut Ridge, near Green River.

These days, Geronimo is believed to be seeking landowners who want turbines. Opponents say 30 percent of landowners in Walnut Ridge won’t re-sign their contracts with Geronimo. And the company may be trying to resurrect Mainstream’s old Green River proposal in Bureau County.

Bureau’s top zoning official, Kris Donarski, says the company plans to submit some kind of proposal in the next couple of months, but she said she doesn’t know the details.

I’ve left messages with Geronimo. No return calls.

Apparently, the company wants to sign up landowners without publicity. Does it want to keep those who are getting offers from comparing notes?

The Informed Farmers Coalition, largely funded by Larry and Steve Gerdes, are working to make sure everyone knows what it thinks Geronimo is up to. The group has distributed brochures and placed advertisements on the radio and in the newspaper. It is warning landowners to think things through and get a lawyer involved before signing contracts.

With Geronimo’s silence, the Informed Farmers group is filling the information void.

But sooner or later, the company will have to tell the world what it’s up to, if it wants a wind farm around here. Its plans have to go through zoning. And in these parts, that’s no longer the easy process it once was.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media.