May 23, 2018
Indiana, Opinions

RES contract is must-read information

GUEST COLUMN: RES contract is must-read information | Lora Redweik, Guest Columnist | Pharos-Tribune | May 22, 2018 |

There have been a lot of questions surrounding the impending RES Harvest Wind Turbine project proposed for the northern part of Cass County. This is some information that I have found.

In 2009, Cass County adopted a Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) amendment to the 1986 ordinance. Our commissioners at that time were Dave Arnold, Gene Powlen and Jim Sailors. In section 523.04 Regulations it states “Commercial, Non-commercial, and Micro WECS will be permitted, or not permitted in various districts as stated in Table A: District Use Standards, with the exception of the following Map that allows Commercial WECS as a permitted use from the Northern County Line to County Road 200 N that extends to the Western and Eastern County lines.” This area was made as an overlay which would not require any future approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for any WECS system restrictions.

We have the pleasure of enjoying our military sky show with the Grissom 434th Air Refueling Wing and the Fort Wayne 122nd Fighter Wing. Jim Sailors was recently on WSAL’s “Talk of the Town” on April 18. If you fast forward to the 45 minute mark, you will hear him say “I can guarantee ya that there are not going to be any turbines in any part of the county other than the north … The wind is the best in the south, but there is also an air base right there. They have flight patterns, they have and that sort of a thing and there’s not going to be any turbines in any part of the county other than the north.”

I think Mr. Sailors has forgotten about the Twelve Mile MOA, which has been there for over 60 years. The MOA is home to the flight zone of our military fighter jets and they have clearance to fly as low as 500 feet, whereas Grissom has a much higher flight clearance of 10,000 feet. RES has filed with the FAA for permits for 436 turbines, in which 181 pin-point locations are in Cass County. The turbine height that RES has submitted is 685 feet tall, though there has not been a turbine model selected yet for the Harvest Wind Project. After the commissioners meeting today, we now know that the project will be at least 200 Megawatts. Another interesting fact is that on June 7, 2009, Cass County’s then Commissioner President, Dave Arnold, said there were two prospective areas in the county known to have sufficient wind to power a wind turbine – the northern part of the county in the area south of Ind. 16 near Royal Center and Lucerne, and in the south near Walton and Galveston, south of Ind. 218. One can only assume that the wind patterns have changed in the past nine years.

The contract between the County and RES is now available to view online on the Cass County Government website [and on the Pharos-Tribune’s website]. I encourage everyone to search the county site and read it. From my experience, reading a contract can take a considerable amount of time in order to understand it. I am hoping that the contract will answer many of the questions we have been asking about for months. Also, the commissioners will be holding a public, evening meeting in a few weeks [the date, time and location will be published in the Pharos-Tribune]. Please be diligent in finding out this information. Cass County Property Rights will be posting this event on their Facebook page as well.

At this point there shouldn’t be any Cass County resident claiming they did not know about this project. I encourage everyone to come to the public, evening meeting no matter what your opinion is on the turbine project. Every time I attend a meeting, I learn something new. Also, I would encourage you to drive out to Tipton County to the Wildcat Wind Farm. I feel this will be a good comparison of how far our proposed turbines will be placed from our homes – yet I am projecting that the turbines in Cass County will be much taller.

According to Jane Harper, former Tipton County Commissioner, Tipton has 69 turbines at a height of 500 feet in the Wildcat Wind Farm. During a clear day, the turbines can be seen eight miles away, and the red blinking lights can be seen at night from 15-20 miles away. Tipton County quickly realized that the setback was too close and unsafe, therefore they increased it to 2,640 feet – something that CCPR has been petitioning for since Dec. 2017. Also, keep in mind that Tipton County’s population is approximately 15,300 compared to Cass County’s population of approximately 38,000 people.

— Lora Redweik is a resident of Twelve Mile

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