A wind farm development company based in Windthorst is making inroads in two Clay County communities, said Jimmy Horn, president of Horn Wind LLC.
Horn told the Times Record News on Tuesday that efforts to lease land for the development of wind farms near the towns of Byers and Bluegrove have been successful so far, though the eventual installation of farms is still “speculative.”
Efforts to develop in Bluegrove “are a little behind” those in Byers, which Horn has identified as the central base of anti-wind energy group Clay County Against Wind Farms. The group has held two public meetings to warn landowners about perceived dangers regarding wind farm construction.
Horn said no development is guaranteed, as the installation of wind turbines on private property is contingent upon contractual agreements between the company and landowners.
“If we don’t get land leases finished up and done in a year and a half it may not happen,” he said.
At a Clay County Against Wind Farms meeting on Monday night, speakers identified three areas in which Horn Wind LLC was looking to build: Bluegrove, Vashti and a parcel of land stretching from South Petrolia to Dean.
Forrest Baldwin, a member of the group, said it gleaned its information from landowners who said they had been solicited by wind energy representatives. Horn said that it initially considered a development in Vashti, but has reconsidered. The Bluegrove and Byers plans appear more solidified than others.
At its meetings, Clay County Against Wind Farms speakers have at times painted wind energy producers as tricky and pushy, encroaching into landowners’ homes to to win a signature on a shady lease agreement.
Horn said he resents the characterization, adding that landowners in Bluegrove and Byers initially contacted his company to strike a wind energy deal – not the other way around. Horn said he generally starts soliciting landowners for lease agreements once he already has a core group of individuals who have sought agreements.
“We don’t approach (landowners) and try to intimidate them or anything like that,” Horn said. “I don’t understand why the groups (such as Clay County Against Wind Farms) consider this such an offensive thing.”
So far, the anti-wind farm movement in Clay County has gathered 150 signed petitions, said Baldwin.
The petitions represent more than 151,000 acres of land owned in Clay County. That is 68 percent of county land owned by landowners with more than 100 acres, the likely target for wind farm developers, he said.
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