An online petition to try to get new regulations formulated for wind turbines in Logan County is probably a non-starter, according to the chairman of the Logan County Board of Commissioners.
A group of citizens in the Fleming area has been pressuring the commissioners to clamp down on the building of new, taller wind turbines for electrical generation. The group has previously said it wants setbacks and other requirements that, the commissioners believe, would essentially ban wind turbines from Logan County. The commissioners have previously said they’re not interested in such rigorous restrictions, largely because they believe it would interfere with the property rights of landowners who want to put the wind turbines on their land and collect royalties for them.
On Feb. 25 Anthony Gerk presented the commissioners with copies of the Yuma County and Kit Carson County regulations and asked that they consider similar rules. The commissioners accepted the presentation without comment.
This week a Google.doc petition appeared online asking the commissioners to enact regulations governing setbacks, decommissioning, noise abatement, shadow flicker, lighting and appearance, and maintenance and reclamation.
Informed of the petition Friday morning, Board Chairman Joe McBride told the Journal-Advocate that there is no process for petitions to be submitted for the purpose of writing new regulations.
“That’s not how it works,” McBride said. “I was waiting for their attorney to submit suggested regulations and, if they’re reasonable, we’d send them to the Planning and Zoning Commission and they’d review it and then they would come back to us.”
Meanwhile, McBride says he’s frustrated that the citizens’ group either doesn’t understand the process or refuses to work within it, despite having it repeatedly explained to them.
“The frustrating thing for me is that, when they come to us in this quasi-judicial, quasi-legislative manner, we can’t really address this because there’s no representation from the other side,” he said. “They keep telling us to do the research, but I don’t go online and do research because I don’t know what I can believe.”
In fact, it’s hard to get straight answers from anyone about wind turbine regulations. When a reporter talked with Yuma County Commissioner Trent Bushner about his county’s regulations, he claimed Yuma County welcomes all alternate forms of electrical generation. It’s noteworthy, however, that the only wind generation in Yuma County is a smattering of individual towers in the corners of fields or at hog feeding operations. To date, there are no large-scale wind farms in Yuma County.
Asked whether a 100-tower wind farm like those already in Logan County would be welcome in Yuma County, Bushner said yes, as long as they conformed to the county’s regulations.
When NextEra Energy, who owns three wind farms in Logan County and is building the new one near Fleming, was contacted and asked whether they could build a wind farm under the Yuma County regulations, the company avoided the question altogether.
In an written statement to the Journal-Advocate NextEra talked about their Logan County installations.
“We continue to develop in Logan County because it embraces wind development and maintains a business-friendly environment, which is facilitated by clearly defined standards,” the statement said. “Our project was designed and developed to comply with the current Logan County regulations that have been in place for over a decade. A change to those regulations at this time would certainly jeopardize the project and reduce the chances of additional investments in Logan County, including good jobs, tax revenue and other economic benefits a wind project provides.”
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