Residents of DeKalb County have an opportunity this month to voice their questions and concerns on wind farms, including one that now stands in their rural neighborhood.
The University of Missouri Extension is sponsoring a Tuesday, Aug. 28, community listening session for county residents on wind farm developments. The session had been scheduled for late June but was canceled after extension officials determined there was a lack of interest and need for a review of obtaining public feedback. A similar session was held in June in Rock Port, Missouri, that drew about 40 residents.
Controversy over wind energy continues to erupt in portions of DeKalb County, where a number of residents in the Osborn, Missouri, area still vehemently oppose the turbines’ location in their rural areas. Despite the opposition, Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources went forward with plans to build a nearly 100-turbine farm in the vicinity, spreading out the units among farmland. The wind farm went into service in 2017.
“The overall purpose is to listen to people’s issues with wind energy, both good and bad,” said Joe Lear, Extension’s Northwest Missouri director. “It is really trying to gauge people’s feelings and tell their story a bit … We’re prepared to listen.”
The prospects of more wind farms locating in the state also factored into the planning, he added. He said DeKalb and Atchison counties were both chosen for the meetings based on their number of wind turbines.
Lear said information from the forum will be used to create a resource guide for individuals entities – including government and private firms – to consult in areas of Missouri that may be considering future wind energy development.
The sessions were conceived after Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst asked Marshall Stewart, the University of Missouri’s vice chancellor for extension and engagement, if the university could assist in assembling a wind energy resources guide for use statewide. Lear said both men will help open the meeting, and Extension officials agreed the sessions are the best means to stimulate a conversation on the topic.
“As the plan develops, we’ll probably meet with folks again,” said Lear. “We want to make sure we get the right information, and we want to be thorough in our research.”
On Tuesday, Hurst told News-Press Now the organization has members for and against wind energy.
“We felt it would be a good idea to have the Extension service to take a look at the whole issue,” he said. “They obviously don’t and won’t have an opinion on it.”
Hurst said Extension has the ability to ascertain a community’s acceptance or rejection of wind energy and can determine the factors that need research should a company show interest in locating turbines in their area.
Online survey questions were created by a team of University of Missouri School of Business students to help gather additional opinions from DeKalb County residents on an anonymous and confidential basis. The potential of meeting with other states on wind energy issues also will be studied by the team and Extension.
The survey asks such questions as whether the respondent has or will receive payment from their participation in recent wind turbine projects, and seeks self-assessments on health impacts, social well-being and community relationships. Those who take the survey also are asked whether they believe wind turbines have had any effect on their property value.
Space is provided at the end of the questionnaire to allow for written personal stories on wind energy. There is no deadline for submitting the surveys, nor has a date been set for unveiling the listening session and questionnaire results online.
The meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the June Conley Building, 701 E. Main St. in Maysville, Missouri. There is no need to participate in both the session and survey.
More information and a link to the survey can be found at extension2.missouri.edu/programs/wind-energy. Views on wind energy also can be expressed by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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