Many are aware that one of the world’s largest wind energy developers, E.ON, has proposed building large industrial wind farms in both Gibson and Posey counties. This development has been met with great resistance in both counties due to their close proximity to the Doppler Radar station in nearby Owensville.
These concerns have repeatedly been brought to the Gibson County commissioners with no resolution to date. I appreciate the delicate nature of this issue for the county commissioners with regards to the E.ON wind turbine problem and using zoning to mitigate this problem. But some years ago, the commissioners decided that they wanted to hold a position of responsibility in Gibson County and serve as trusted stewards of our county’s resources and residents. Tough decisions are part of the job.
At this time, we face a situation in which their efforts as trusted stewards are being called upon to solve a big problem in the county for the majority of residents and for the nearly 435,000 Tri-State residents who rely on the Owensville Doppler Radar advanced warning system.
If you get rid of all the rhetoric surrounding this issue, there are only two possible outcomes to this problem:
1) The commissioners do nothing (or wait too long) and E.ON will have dozens of turbines dotting our pristine landscape and compromising our early warning capabilities in the event of severe weather. Tri-State residents’ safety will be at risk.
2) The commissioners enact zoning that prevents any construction of turbines within 11.1 miles (18 km) of the doppler system and all of our safety concerns disappear.
Now regardless of who speaks the loudest or rambles on with half-truths about any aspect of this project, the commissioners have been given clear, accurate and documented evidence of the perils of turbines in a doppler radar region – including testimony from the National Weather Service themselves. None of this is of question, so the solution should be very clear to our county officials – if they have the fortitude to move forward.
Understand that if they do nothing, that is a choice for the developer and not for Gibson County. So, the commissioners need to act and act now.
I have had the opportunity to talk and trade messages with most of the commissioners and they have heard a consistent message from me from the beginning. I cannot say the same has been heard from them. I have heard about costs, upcoming elections, economic development, property rights, etc.
Please appreciate that not one of these things matter if you have citizens that don’t feel safe. The risk to homes, children, elderly, etc. far outweigh any tangible cost that could be incurred, when an unseen tornado strikes our community. No one should have the right to compromise our safety or the safety of 435,000 Tri-State residents in surrounding counties.
If the county commissioners need a mob mentality at their meeting with hundreds of people trying to yell over each other to make a decision, that can happen. I was hoping the commissioners would do the right thing, simply because it was the right thing to do. Those other variables that prevent the commissioners from moving forward are the same reasons we dislike the conduct of the state and federal government. Playing political games for political gains does not help the people that elected them.
The solution is right in front of them and most of the work has already been done and the cost was incurred during the previous attempt at zoning. Spend the $50,000 to get zoning done for the safety of the Tri-State and bill it for next year – but get it done.
This issue is in the hands of the Gibson County Commissioners but it affects the safety of Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick, White, Union, Henderson, Gallatin, Pike and Knox Counties. Citizens of the these counties, please contact the Gibson County commissioners at 812-385-8260 or firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and voice your concerns.
Doing nothing, and assuming others are doing the work, isn’t an option.
Commissioners, you were elected as trusted stewards; Don’t give us a reason to doubt that trust.
Dr. Kent W. Scheller of Haubstadt is a Professor of Physics at the University of Southern Indiana.
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