[ exact phrase in "" • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


News Home

Subscribe to RSS feed

Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

Sign up for daily updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links


Press Releases


Publications & Products

Photos & Graphics


Allied Groups

Iowa Supreme Court rejects effort to block proposed wind farm  

Credit:  Grant Schulte | Associated Press | May 3, 2019 | www.desmoinesregister.com ~~

The Iowa Supreme Court rejected an effort Friday by local landowners to block a proposed wind farm in northwest Iowa after it won approval from government regulators.

The court’s rulings remove a major obstacle for the 170-turbine wind energy project in Palo Alto County. It also provides more certainty that similar projects will be able to proceed in the future.

Residents filed two lawsuits challenging the plan by Palo Alto Wind Energy and MidAmerican Energy, one against the Iowa Utilities Board and another against the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors.

The utilities board lawsuit contended board members should have required developers to get a “certificate of public convenience, use and necessity” that would have required an extensive study of the project’s impact on neighbors and the environment.
At issue was an ambiguous section of Iowa law that mandates the certificate for large wind-energy projects located at a single site.

The utilities board chose to define “single site” as a collection of wind turbines that are all linked by a single line to a power substation. Based on that interpretation, the utilities board said the Palo Alto County wind farm was not a single site but a cluster of different facilities because they used different lines. None of those individual facilities produced enough energy to require a special certificate.

Wallace Taylor, a Cedar Rapids attorney who represented the property owners, said the utility board’s interpretation of Iowa law allows the wind industry to avoid scrutiny of its impact on the environment and local residents.

Taylor said his clients were disappointed with the ruling and called on state lawmakers to address the issue. He said the Iowa Utilities Board “has been derelict” in its duty to review wind-energy projects.

“I support wind energy. I think we have to go to wind energy as quickly as we can. But these projects need to be sited properly,” he said.

His clients, Bertha and Stephen Mathis, of Emmetsburg, argued that the entire 340-megawatt wind farm should have been treated as one big site and subject to the environmental review.

The high court ruled that the standard used by the utilities board was more consistent with state law than the one proposed in the lawsuit. Justices also noted that Iowa lawmakers haven’t challenged the state utility board’s interpretation of the law.

Bertha and Stephen Mathis’ lawsuit against the county, with five other plaintiffs, challenged the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors’ process for approving the project under a newly approved zoning ordinance.

Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart said he was relieved and thankful that the court upheld the county’s zoning rules. Hart said the ordinance was carefully designed to promote wind-energy development while protecting the interests of local residents.
“Iowa would have been back to square one as far as wind energy” if the court had ruled the other way, Hart said.

The lawsuit contended that the county’s zoning requirements for wind turbines, approved in 2016, were primarily were written by wind-industry officials. The high court rejected the argument, saying it was crafted by Hart with industry input. It also denied residents’ arguments that the county board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.

“As this case reveals, wind farms are not without drawbacks,” Justice Edward Mansfield wrote in the ruling. “But in this case, the weighing of those drawbacks against any benefits was entrusted to the elected representatives of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors.”

Representatives for the Iowa Utilities Board didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Source:  Grant Schulte | Associated Press | May 3, 2019 | www.desmoinesregister.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding
Donate $5 PayPal Donate


News Watch Home

Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

Wind Watch on Facebook


© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.