One of Clinton County’s most prominent businesses has serious concerns with a proposed wind farm in the north central section of the county.
Matt Shatto and Barb Shatto of the Shatto Milk Company met with the Clinton County Commissioners on Thursday, July 16, to discuss their opposition to the NextEra project.
The proposed $350 million wind farm project – which would see turbines in both Clinton and DeKalb Counties – hit a snag earlier this month with the Clinton County Planning and Zoning Commission voted down a special use permit request from the company to erect meteorological test towers in northern Clinton County.
Matt Shatto said Thursday that if the project were to come to fruition, one of the proposed turbines would be built less than a half mile from the dairy. He said the company isn’t against clean energy, but rather the possible adverse effects; he said stray energy could transfer through the ground and to their cows, leading to more illnesses, increased miscarriages and less production.
“Our animals are what allow us to be successful,” Matt Shatto said. “Our animals are what bring 100,000 people to Clinton County… We don’t believe we can operate that way.”
Shatto added that they’re researching the issue and have reached out to professionals and universities for the best information possible.
Shatto’s thoughts resonated with the commissioners, as all three publicly confirmed Thursday that they are opposed to the NextEra project. Second District Commissioner Larry King – who was also adamantly against the Grain Belt Express, a proposed transmission line that met stiff opposition in Clinton and Caldwell Counties – said it’s his job to protect his constituents.
Presiding Commissioner Wade Wilken, Jr. told the Shattos that they had given him the most tangible reason to say no to the project, adding that they had done a good job of collecting and presenting their information.
“Shatto is an established business,” Wilken said. “They started from nothing, basically. I think they have upwards of 100,000 people visit the farm every year, Boy Scout groups and Girl Scout groups and agricultural groups. There is a residual for Clinton County there… They’re a benefit to Clinton County and it sounds like we’ll lose that if this wind farm goes in.”
Steve Stengel, a spokesman for NextEra, told The Leader this week there is a misconception about wind turbines and stray energy. He said the turbines aren’t the cause of the problem and any addition of an energy generation source to a system may expose the faults of that system.
“Wind energy does not cause stray voltage,” Stengel said. “Wind energy has been incorrectly associated with stray voltage because wind turbines are often installed in agricultural areas. Stray voltage is not a consequence of wind energy, but rather changes in the use pattern of the existing electrical system.”
He said all types of energy generation must comply with utility requirements regarding the standards of the grid, and stray voltage problems require on-site inspection to avoid grounding problems, as well as inspect power quality issues with the utility. Stengel added that the company would be happy to sit down with the dairy and discuss their concerns.