AVON – Gregg Hubner isn’t interested in more wind turbines in his neighborhood.
Hubner, who built a new house in 2012 about 2.5 miles north of Avon, is leading an effort to inform local residents about another proposed wind farm in the area.
Last month, Ron Hornstra, of B&H Wind, and Roland Jurgens, a consultant with Carstensen Energy, briefed the Bon Homme County commissioners about plans to build another wind farm.
This proposed wind farm project would be located in Bon Homme and Charles Mix counties. The first project – now known as Project Beethoven, after receiving a name from its new ownership – was built in Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Hutchinson counties. The newly proposed project, they said, would consist of at least 50 to 60 turbines.
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, not the counties, would have to approve the project because it would likely produce more than 100 megawatts of power.
Hubner said he’s against the project for two main reasons. First, the turbines, he said, would ruin the landscape of his land to possibly drive down property values in the area. Second, the ownership of the first wind farm project, Project Beethoven, was sold to a multinational company that doesn’t have the best interest of Bon Homme County in mind, Hubner said.
“We love where we live because of the scenery and the view, and having wind turbines near here would ruin the landscape,” he said. “This is my home, and we just don’t want anything to do with this.”
He’s also concerned with potential health issues, such as trouble sleeping near the turbines.
During Hubner’s informal meeting Thursday. He spoke to about 25 people at his home, and they also heard from Winnie Peterson, of Canton. Peterson and her neighbors formed a group that successfully opposed a wind farm project last month near Sioux Falls in Lincoln County.
B&H Wind was the investor group that started the $120-million, 43-turbine project, now known as Project Beethoven, and took it through the approval process. It then sold the project last fall to BayWa Renewable Energy, a California-based company and subsidiary of a German firm of the same name. The Beethoven farm is expected to begin operation this spring.
Since the project was sold, Hubner said the project doesn’t have any local connections.
He’s concerned the same thing will happen with the newly proposed project.
“If they drive in and forget to close the gate and the cattle get out, this company isn’t going to care about what happens,” he said. “The farmer is on their own.”
Hubner said he has not sold his air rights, despite numerous offers for it. Once those are sold, he said, control is lost. For the time being, he can only hope to educate others about the what he believes are potential risks with wind farms.
“There’s 10 reasons against this project for every one reason for it,” he said.
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