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Washington County wind energy hearing gets mixed response

Around 40 people attended a public hearing for the first of two possible wind energy ordinances in Washington County.

The Board of Supervisors held the hearing Wednesday evening at the Conservation Education Center at Marr Park to allow any county residents to ask questions and give comments on the ordinance, which determines a special valuation for wind energy conversion property. Several landowners on opposing sides spoke to the supervisors on the matter, including Don Bayliss of Wellman, “I do believe that there is a place for windmills. Those of us that don’t have hog buildings, we just have corn and grain, or we don’t have cattle or some other source of income, this is an opportunity for us to have another source of income. And at this time in 2020-2021, we need that other source.”

Keith Hora of Washington spoke against the ordinance, asking how wind farms would conflict with future technology in agriculture, “You put those things on my farm there will be a bulldozer the next day pushing them over. And I don’t know what you guys are doing, why are you passing this ordinance? What did most of the farmers in the county say when they talked about this? And you want to find a way to increase revenue off of a piece of land? I’ve got an idea, you don’t have to put up a wind mill, put up a strip club.”

Board Chair Richard Young said they invited representatives of the Invenergy company that has contacted landowners about a potential farm to attend the hearing but they declined. The supervisors also stated that matters of road usage and placement for windmills would be addressed in a second ordinance if the first one were to pass. No action was scheduled for this special meeting, but the board would have to hold three readings to adopt the ordinance.