I write in response to Mr. Woodard’s recent op-ed, nominally about a landowner’s perspective on the Rail Tie Wind Project. The piece was actually more about a landowner who expects a windfall in the form of turbine royalties, who views his neighboring landowners as the main impediment to money he believes he deserves, and who relentlessly belittles what his neighbors have to say. We need a reset.
First, Mr. Woodard has no right to change the use of his property from agricultural to industrial without appropriate government permission. This is not one of the legislated privileges, such as minimal property taxation, that ranchers enjoy.
Second, his windfall evaporates if the eventual owner and operator of the project – distinct from the project promoter – proposes a flawed project that does not secure governmental permission to proceed.
Third, the Rail Tie Wind Project is indeed questionable. Its 675-foot tall turbines are a leap in technological scale that has not been deployed onshore in the United States, a leap that presents issues far beyond the visual. For example, taller towers attract more lightning and throw ice further.
Mr. Woodard’s careless dismissal of the concerns of his neighbors only makes sense if he does not intend to live near the turbines once the project begins. The rest of us, and there are many, prefer to stay – without the monstrous turbines. For some, who have seen their property values impaired by the mere announcement of the project, leaving would mean hardship.
Fourth, there is a renewable energy boom in Wyoming. Without an effort to look forward, Albany County could find itself caught up in a flood of construction that rests largely on tax credits, with a patchwork of wind and solar development that undermines the qualities that now make Albany County so appealing. It’s not just about Mr. Woodard.
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