Neighbors are clashing in the debate over a possible wind farm in Black Hawk County.
Tuesday, a special permit for the proposed wind farm was passed by the Black Hawk County Planning and Zoning Commission.
Dozens of people on both sides of the issue spoke for several hours on the subject. People had to wait in the hall because there wasn’t enough room in the meeting chambers.
The proposed Washburn Wind Energy, LLC farm would be the 16th Iowa wind project for the company RPM Access.
RPM Access is asking to put up 35 turbines throughout the farmland located south of Waterloo and east of Hudson in Black Hawk County.
The total project would take up about 22 acres of current farmland.
Representatives from RPM Access called Black Hawk County’s wind ordinance among the toughest in the state.
County staff says RPM Access has met all of the requirements for a special permit.
During the meeting, many industry organizations including electricians and contractors spoke in support of the project.
“This is the greenest of green power, being generated right here near our community. We have to remember by having energy generation so close, in our community, it brings stability by not having to rely on a power plant hundreds of miles away. It is the foundation for more economic development to come,” said Ritchie Kurtenbach, President of Waterloo Building and Construction Trades Council.
But many who live in the area are concerned the project will have a negative effect on their health and property values.
They point to things like possible shadow flicker which is the moving shadow of the blades.
“The house that I own will be subject to shadow flicker 178 days of the year. I know that is a maximum, but it is a hard pill to swallow,” said a local property owner. “Can you imagine getting up in your house and it just flickering and flickering and flickering? I can’t imagine living with that.”
The county ordinance does require RPM Access to make “reasonable attempts” to prevent shadow flicker for area residents.
RPM Access has already secured land leases with property owners for the 35 turbines, substation, and meteorological tower required for the project.
The Black Hawk County Planning & Zoning Commission only voted on a special permit for the project. The special permit request will now go before the Black Hawk County Board of Adjustments on April 24th.
RPM Access will have to file a building permit separately.
If the wind farm is approved through all the steps, it could be up and running by early 2020.