LINCOLN COUNTY, S.D.- For the last four years, wind energy has been a whirlwind of a discussion in Lincoln County.
The area is being eyed for a large wind-farm, but the project has been stalled by opponents and left in limbo by County Commissioners.
However a new vote this week could put the fate of the project in the hands of Lincoln County residents.
“It’s a highly elevated area, and because of that you have greater wind velocities down there, and so it’s an ideal location for wind turbines,” said Brian Minish with Dakota Power Community Wind
Dakota Power Community Wind is working to bring a large wind farm to the southern part of Lincoln County. However an ordinance passed by county commissioners this week would make that project virtually impossible by doubling the turbine setback requirements to half a mile from homes.
“Well if you have a square section of ground, you have a home on each side, you can’t be a half a mile away, so it pretty well eliminates most all of the land that we have signed up for being eligible,” said Minish.
While calling the vote “disappointing,” the group hasn’t lost hope.
“We’re glad that they actually took action, so that means we can go to the next step now, we will go out and start getting signatures to put this on the ballot.”
But that next step won’t come without a fight.
We-CareSD, a non-profit group leading the opposition to the project has pledged to challenge that ballot referendum.
“My strong belief, based on the informational the polls that we have conducted is that the community, when educated, and understand what this means, will vote it down,” said Winnie Peterson, President of We-CareSD.
We-CareSD says at even a half-mile from homes, the wind farm is not safe or practical for Lincoln County.
“Five hundred foot turbines that run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 110 decibels is not a technology, it is not a solution that should be placed in highly populated areas,” said Peterson.
Minish says signature gathering efforts could start as early as next week.
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