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Let’s talk wind farms: A conversation with Posey/Gibson project company, E.ON

Citizen groups like Pocowind.org and Gibcowind.org have addressed concerns over proposed wind farm projects and Gibson and Posey counties throughout the last several months.

On Thursday, Gibco Wind held a meeting, and a represenative from the company behind the project, E.ON, attended.

Amanda Mueller sat down with E.ON Wind Development Manager Karsen Rumpf to ask questions posed at these citizen meetings.

“First thing I like to tell people is to, you know, go up and take a look at them yourself to understand what sound comes from them, what impact you think it has,” said Rumpf. That’s because a big concern often brought up at community meetings is shadow flicker and noise.

Shadow flicker is the changing, or “flickering” of light reflected nearby as the turbines blades turn.

“They talk about a decibel level of a wind turbine. I like to say it’s similar to the sound of a refrigerator fan coming on, that hum you hear,” he says. “We do numous studies to mitigate and minimize these impacts.”

Last month, we brought you the Adler’s story. Beverly and Mark are full-time caretakers for their two disabled adult sons in Haubstadt, Gibson County. Their neighbor has signed a lease to allow the turbines on his property, and they fear they may have to give up their home because the turbines could impact Adam’s and Aaron’s sensory disabilities. The Adler’s told us they are not against wind energy, they would just like to have a say and see some adjustments made.

Karsen met with them this week.

“I’ve actually met with that family in person. I have a personal connection with them as I have a brother with a disability as well and my mother built a home for him.”

He says he can’t talk about any specific solutions at this time, but says he will continue to speak with the family over the next few months.

I asked what type of solutions have been used in past projects in situations like this.

“We will be looking into all solutions to this issue. This is kind of new.”

Recently, E.ON withdrew a permit for the Posey County project, because of the meteorological tower to measure wind speeds.

“We realized we could get better resolutions and better estimates on what we call a LIDAR system.”

The difference, he says, is LIDAR is a refrigerator-sized box to measure windspeed, versus a 200-foot tower.

“My larger concern was that changing the application at the last minute would show people that we were not being transparent,” he says of the decision to withdraw the permit. “So, we wanted to submit a full application of the complete inputs of the new information to every resident to give them time, adequate response and adequate interest in the project.”

He says they plan to re-submit a full application listing the updated technology.

Another concern brought up in meetings is how much of the energy will be available locally.

“When you put energy to the transmission grid, I like to tell owners it’s like a drop of water in a bucket. You don’t exactly know where the drop of water goes. It’ll go where demand is needed in the area. […] It could go to Toyota, it could go to Evansville, it could go somewhere in the area where the energy is needed.”

Ultimately, he says, energy is regulated by the Midwest energy independent system operator, so they will be looking to see who will purchase energy from the project.

According to E.ON, everything is mostly still in the planning phase, but they plan to hold their own public information meeting in the upcoming months.

“We have concern over all residences who have issues with the project.”

Two Projects: Gibson West/North Posey, predicted 50-70 turbines, with 80% in Posey Co./20% in Gibson Co.
Gibson Central: 50-:60 turbines
Around 25,000 acres are signed on for both projects in both counties
Setback distance in the the current lease: 1250 ft.
Around 30 permanent jobs would be created (15-20 per project)