Nestled above the Iowa border is Freeborn County’s London Township. The residents go about their business, bother nobody, descended from immigrants who fled Europe’s burdensome taxes and government rule, coming to America to live the dream of liberty, and have opportunities according to abilities, not birthright. Settlers were hard-working, self-sufficient and elected church, school, township and county boards who represented their belief in frugality, low taxes, freedom and property rights. Life was good in peaceful London Township.
Until now. Today’s generation living in London Township faces loss of that peaceful way of life, with neighbor against neighbor, division in churches, people not speaking to one another – all because of 500-foot industrial wind turbines (not your grandfather’s windmills) coming near peoples’ homes. These turbines will scar the landscape – blinking red lights visible for 30 miles, flickering shadows, inescapable hum and vibration, lowering property values. Local government and community leaders we trusted failed us. They wouldn’t support our request (wanted by 70 percent of London Township residents) that the county study further setbacks from homes for the new, bigger turbines. From what I understood, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr said setbacks shouldn’t be changed and wants as many turbines as possible in Freeborn County. (Wind farm developer Invenergy had joined the chamber.) Economic development head Ryan Nolander spoke in favor of the wind farm bringing jobs (possibly 10, when in the same month under his watch industries left Albert Lea, losing 120 jobs.) Commissioner Shoff voted no, parroting Invenergy’s developer, saying a Canadian survey said there were no ill effects from turbines. Commissioner Mathiason voted no, saying he knew the negative aspects of wind turbines close to homes, but the county will receive income. Commissioner Nelson, with property slated to get windmills, abstained, causing the vote to study setbacks to fail. All chose money over people! They decided it will be OK for other people to suffer so that some money can come into the county. None of those people will live next to the turbines, but they think it’s good for others to live next to them because there is money involved! Betrayal for 30 pieces of silver is alive and well.
Xcel Energy will take over the wind project, though their goal of 25 percent renewable energy in Minnesota by 2025 has already been met. Xcel President Jeff Berrington got a permit from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this March to remove a bald eagle nest in a wind farm in Mower County and dispose of nest material “to ensure safe operation of wind turbines for bald eagle safety.” Someone said the permit was given because the wind farm was there first, and eagles moved in afterward. We already have eagles in London Township. Can we get a permit to remove and dispose of wind turbines because the eagles and residents were here first? Would Mr. Berrington be upset if, within three blocks of his home, someone constructed a wind turbine taller than the Foshay tower, with spinning blades diameter bigger than the Vikings’ football field?
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