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The article about the “blowback” against industrial wind in Freeborn County, Minn., quoted Invenergy as saying that Iowa loves industrial wind. I am incensed by that statement.
In Palo Alto County, Iowa, residents have filed suit against Invenergy/MidAmerican’s proposed installation. Most of the acres signed up for these installations are owned by people who do not live there and will not have to live and work with the many, many negative impacts.
Iowa and Minnesota landowners have started a grass-roots movement to educate the public on these impacts. We are the Coalition for Rural Property Rights. We began in Iowa but now are connected with groups from many states. We are very strong in southern Minnesota.
Palo Alto County’s Planning and Zoning Board decided that residents should be allowed one-half-mile setbacks from their homes for these 500-foot industrial electrical generators. Invenergy/MidAmerican sent a letter to our county supervisors rejecting that stipulation and outlining exactly how it would like our ordinance to read. The supervisors acceded to Invenergy/MidAmerican’s demands.
I asked an Invenergy representative at a public meeting why there are so many testimonies, studies, lawsuits, groups, books, documentaries and movies about the negative aspects of industrial wind. He turned and said to me, “They are all lying.”
In Kossuth County, Iowa, Invenergy/MidAmerican is seeking to change the height requirement for turbines because it cannot get enough landowners to sign easement contracts. In Ida County, Iowa, rural landowners have a petition against the proposed Invenergy/MidAmerican installation there with almost 600 signatures.
Industrial wind exists for the production tax credits (PTC) that utilities like Xcel, MidAmerican and Alliant will reap for 10 years. They exist because a few landowners love the payments they receive for signing over rights on their entire farms to these big companies. They exist because many town leaders want the extra revenue but are protected from turbines’ negative impacts. They exist because some people believe that they are “replacing” traditional power, cutting CO2 emissions and saving us money.
The truth is that we still need all our traditional power plants if the wind stops. Those plants still have payroll, maintenance and mortgage costs but are not allowed to make money when wind comes on line. All industrial wind has added are more costly power plants and transmission lines.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) brags that industrial wind avoids 159 million metric tons of CO2 every year. Mankind emits 35-40 billion metric tons of CO2 each year. This number AWEA states is likely figured with wind offsetting coal. If they offset natural gas, the number would be half; with nuclear and hydro, there is no difference in emissions.
Even doubling the worldwide fleet of industrial wind turbines would not take us beyond 1 percent of total CO2 emissions.
Industrial wind energy is not worth the $23 billion it will cost us between 2016-2020, and not worth the many problems it creates for hundreds of thousands of residents and landowners across the U.S. even when they are running exactly as intended. Wind companies are lying to and bullying rural residents in order to chase the PTC carrot.
If industrial wind had to thrive on its own merits and rural Iowans could vote on industrial wind installations, I think there would be none.
Janna Swanson, of Ayrshire, Iowa, is a board member of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights and National Wind Watch, and a member of the Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance.
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