NEW CASTLE – A third company is looking to Henry County for the development of a wind farm and an opposition group has already been formed.
Texas-based Calpine Corp. is seeking to develop the Big Blue River Wind Farm in northwestern Henry County to include the townships of Greensboro, Harrison, Jefferson and Prairie.
Two other wind farms have been proposed in southern Henry County.
A request filed with the Henry County Planning Commission for the placement of a 328-foot meteorological tower to gather wind speed and directional data has been withdrawn indefinitely.
A group called No Wind Farm has been seeking support in opposition to the wind farm development; signs are popping up around Henry County.
Derek Rieman, project manager, said the intent is to construct a 200-megawatt wind farm consisting of 80 to 100 wind turbines. The estimated investment is between $300 million and $350 million.
“The permit application is still on file,” he said. “Remote sensors are currently collecting data. We monitor that daily. We want the best location for the meteorological tower.”
Brett Kerr, director of communications for Calpine, said this is the first wind farm development in Indiana but the company is developing other facilities in the country.
Rieman said the company hopes to start generating electricity from the Big Blue River Wind Farm by 2018, depending on the sale of the power.
“We picked northwestern Henry County for three reasons,” he said. “The wind resource, the availability of transmission lines and the support Henry County has given to developments in the past.”
Rieman said Calpine is securing leases with property owners for the placement of the 400- to 500-foot towers.
“We have met with a number of families that have signed leases,” Rieman said. “Our interactions with property owners have been positive.”
He said the company is aware of the opposition to the project.
Kerr said opposition is not unusual.
“It’s the NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard),” he said. “People want cheap power but don’t want the facilities close to where they live.
“We want to have a positive relationship and work with our neighbors, not only lease holders but with adjacent property owners,” Kerr said.
Susie Eichhorn said her family has started the opposition group.
“We want people in the four townships to know what is taking place,” she said. “We found that people care.”
Eichhorn said more than 300 people have joined a group on Facebook.
“Our first goal is to make people aware,” she said. “We are concerned for the people we grew up with. Our hope is that people will be aware of the development and involved in the decision-making process.”
Tye Carson, who owns seven acres near where turbines could be located, is opposed to the project.
“I’ve been informed by my neighbors,” she said. “Our concern is we give a lot of riding lessons outside and the noise.”
Carson wants to learn more about the Calpine proposal.
“We want to know how it would affect our riding program, because we have a lot of small children,” she said. “If the noise was loud, it could impact the horses.”
Carson said the family wouldn’t lease ground for the placement of a turbine.
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