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Proposed Black Hawk County wind farm sees opposition

WATERLOO, Iowa – Residents have voiced opposition to a proposed wind farm development in southern Black Hawk County.

RPM Access has planned to build the 70-megawatt Washburn Wind Farm just south of Waterloo, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/2iA9sIh ) reported.

Several people who live nearby have said they’re concerned that the turbines could hurt their property values, kill bats and birds, throw ice from the blades and cause health issues due to low-frequency noise, motion and shadow flicker.

“If this windmill farm goes through I’m looking at $5,000 per machine increase in my (insurance) premium,” business owner Rick Green said. “It’s going to cause me to have to raise my rates. Plus, as a human being, I’m not looking forward to seeing flashing lights every evening.”

Company spokesman Felix Friedman said plans detailing the exact size, number and location of the turbines and other infrastructure may not be available until next summer, so it’s still unknown who the neighbors will be. The energy company is offering lease payments to landowners and additional payments to surrounding property owners within a certain distance of the turbines.

“Those who aren’t exactly a half mile from them but still get the full and effects get nothing,” resident Deb Nieman said. “But we ourselves could care less about the money.”

RPMA is also conducting environmental and cultural studies in the area to collect wind data and map out roads and residents before applying for necessary permits in the county.

“We’re environmentalists ourselves because we’re in the wind business and we think clean energy is good,” Friedman said. “Other energy sources are much more harmful to human health and the environment, whether it’s coal or gas or nuclear.”

The company also needs to also find buyers and investors before starting any construction. The turbines would be the county’s first wind farm, and RPMA’s Kirk Kraft said a single turbine can generate $25,000 to $40,000 in annual county and school property taxes.