The wind died considerably in the northwestern portion of Tipton County last week, leaving the perfect break in the weather for remonstrators of wind farm development in the county to celebrate.
Following 11 months of litigation, Colorado-based juwi Wind will no longer pursue plans to develop Prairie Breeze Wind Farm, a project that would have included 94 wind turbines in Prairie and Liberty townships while investing $300 million in the project.
The turbines that countless members of the public have referred to as “offensive” will remain off of farm property and away from those who claim the structures are too loud while reducing property values.
No matter which side of the aisle residents have been on, Tipton County Commissioner Joe VanBibber described juwi’s decision not to build as “a closure to a difficult time in the community.”
Ultimately, the new stipulations put in place by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals proved to be the biggest contributing factor in juwi’s project not coming to fruition.
Juwi’s lawsuit alleged the BZA had exceeded its authority by increasing the distance wind turbines had to be from property lines and requiring a property value guarantee plan to protect non-participating property owners in the project area.
While some have questioned whether local officials have had the best intentions of the public and landowners as wind energy has become the hot button issue in recent years, there can be little argument that the stipulations played a huge role in preventing the wind turbines from going up. juwi said the stipulations “effectively rendered the project impossible to build.”
VanBibber said he believed juwi “no longer wants to do business in that environment.”
So what type of development is appropriate for the county moving forward?
With one wind farm backing out in the county, attention will no doubt shift back to E.ON’s Wildcat Wind Farm, which still has plans to build a second phase of turbines in center of the county.
Tipton County continues to see new business pop up along the U.S. 31 corridor and commissioners seem ready to embrace the possibility of alternative forms of business to provide economic development to the county.
Functional Devices had transferred its Russiaville operations to Sharpsville, where 75 to 100 new jobs will be housed along U.S. 31. But even they have received criticism from those in the Prairie Acres residential subdivision for creating too much truck traffic.
The recently opened Chrysler Tipton Transmission Plant, which could be a long term solution to provide jobs for a younger generation hoping to pursue jobs in the automotive field, is certainly the most obvious option.
Whichever industry it may be, the citizens of Tipton County will, at some point, need to balance their desire to progress and create new jobs with their desire to maintain their agricultural roots.