Kevon Martis, Director of the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition, Inc., gave a presentation on the potential dangers of wind turbines in the Community Building of the Jasper County Fairgrounds on the night of Monday, June 25.
The occasion, part of a series local government discussions held that night, marked the first time that the Jasper County Planning Commission has discussed wind energy. Renewable Energy Systems (RES) is a company notably planning to construct a wind farm in the area.
Martis’ presentation was organized by a group of concerned locals who are protesting the potential use of wind turbines in the area. Locals have also taken to social media through outlets such as the group Facebook page titled “Pulaski and Jasper County, IN Property Rights.”
“We are a grassroots organization of friends, neighbors, landowners, farmers, business owners, volunteers and families concerned about a proposed wind project and the questionable business practices of the wind company RES Americas currently operating in Jasper and Pulaski counties.”
RES is notably hoping to receive approval for a wind farm project in the county, which the organization has dubbed the “White Post Wind P.” The Federal Aviation Administration notably received applications to permit construction of over 100 turbines near the area of Francesville in March 2017.
Though RES was not explicitly listed therein, it is apparently the only company with a long-term plan in the Jasper County area at this time.
The meeting, scheduled as a regular gathering of the Jasper County Planning Commission, was attended by roughly 300 people. The crowd notably had to wait around 3 hours for the presentation to begin, following other local government business, and the presentation only began at around 10 p.m. Despite the late hour, few apparently left prior to Martis’ presentation.
“People say, ‘You’re an anti-wind guy,'” Martis said. “Actually, I don’t really care about wind energy that much. I prefer it not be subsidized. I prefer there be no subsidies for any energy source … My objection to wind is that it’s a poor economic value. It’s a poor environmental value, and the demands they make upon local land use regulations are unreasonable and beyond what we grant any other land use.”
Martis argued that areas such as Jasper County, which have a significant rural population despite the vast farmlands, are not a natural place for wind farms. According to Martis, this is simply because the more wide-open areas for wind farms are already taken.
“Better wind resources are becoming scarce; this is a problem nationwide,” he said. “The low-hanging fruit was picked a while ago, and they’re being pushed into poorer wind regimes.”
According to whitepostwind.com, the Jasper County site has been selected because it has “ample wind resources in the area, available capacity on the existing electrical grid, and allows for complementary use of land with existing agriculture.”
The site also went on to state that “a successful wind energy project requires primarily a good wind resource, participating landowners and interconnection to the electrical grid.”
Martis extensively cited information from various sources, including one from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, from earlier this year. One of the numerous points he used from this study was about the sound that turbines make. Martis also pointed out how the turbines are typically at their loudest during the night, leading some families living near them to have significant trouble sleeping.
When asked “Have you ever heard sound from the wind power project?” 84 percent of those living within five miles of the turbines said “no” and 16 percent said “yes.” However, when the question was asked of those specifically living within a half-mile of the turbines, 81 percent said “Yes.”
Reported annoyance levels among those living within 0.5 miles of a turbine who reported ever hearing sound are: not at all (43 percent), slightly (19 percent), somewhat (six percent), moderately (11 percent), and very (20 percent). Thus, 30 percent of all respondents who lived within 0.5 miles of a turbine reported being somewhat, moderately or very annoyed.
Also, 10 percent of all respondents within five miles of a turbine reported hearing turbine sounds outside their home with the windows open. Five percent reported hearing turbine sounds with the windows closed.
RES has emphasized the project’s alleged economic benefit to the area, pointing out several facets which it believes will serve that benefit. The company pointed out that a buyer for the energy the project generates will be required “once the project is nearly complete.”
“Given the current demand for such energy, RES has already received interest from multiple buyers regarding the White Post Project,” the company stated.
Specifically, the project will involve up to 116 wind turbines (max. 660 ft. tall). It is expected to generate approximately 400 megawatts of power and will need associated access roads, underground collection lines, a collector substation, an operations building and meteorological towers for measuring wind speed and other climatic conditions.
RES also stated that it has commissioned a comprehensive suite of technical and environmental surveys which will present findings from the equipment as they become available.
“With change comes questions,” the team company stated. “We understand there will be some uncertainty about moving forward, which is why we place such a high priority on community engagement. You are an integral part in this project, and we are meeting and consulting with a diverse number of stakeholders to provide information on the White Post Project as it develops.”
RES further noted that landowner payments in the first year of the project will be approximately $2.4 million. And there will be approximately $88 million in total payments to landowners throughout the 30-year project life. There will also be annual property tax (or PILOT program) payments of $1 million to $2 million to Jasper County.
The company also believes the project will create 10-to-15 jobs (Operations & Maintenance) with a salary range of $50,000 to $80,000, with up to 350 construction jobs at peak building phase. The construction period is expected to last for 10-14 months, during which “workers will stay at local hotels, spend dollars at local restaurants and patronize a variety of other local businesses.”
Overall, the company claimed there will be a total economic investment of “more than $625 million.”
“We’re happy to sit down and personally meet with any member of the community,” RES stated, “and we look forward to seeing you at upcoming public meetings and community events!”
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