SIOUX CITY – Woodbury County residents will get a say starting later this month on whether the county should pursue its first wind energy projects.
The county board of supervisors has set three public hearings to discuss a proposed commercial wind energy ordinance.
The hearings are set for 4:40 p.m. on June 22, 4:45 p.m. on June 29 and 4:45 p.m. on July 6, all in the board of supervisors meeting room in the basement of the courthouse.
For over a year, David Gleiser, director of rural economic development, and his staff have worked to draft the proposed ordinance, after researching similar ordinances from counties across the state.
“With the high demand and potential for more wind growth in Iowa, and considering recent large-scale wind energy projects in nearby counties, Woodbury County staff have developed a proposed ordinance,” Gleiser said.
The ordinance addresses site plan review and application approval process for the construction of wind energy.
It also outlines protected areas that wind turbines cannot be built. The turbines cannot be built within 600 feet of public conservation areas, cemeteries, occupied residence, public road right-of-way and city limits.
Supervisor Mark Monson said the Loess Hills should be added as a protected area.
Based on wind patterns, Gleiser said the windmills would most likely be built at the northern part of the county.
Gleiser noted Iowa is a national leader in wind energy. He said the renewable energy could bring a variety of advantages to the county including:
– Providing good-paying jobs;
– Attracting large tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook;
– Generating millions in annual lease payments to landowner;
– Helping the county capture millions in property tax revenue.
Gleisner cited large projects in Northwest Iowa, including Cherokee County, where a $246 million wind farm was recently built for Google.
Somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 people in Iowa are employed in the wind industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association, and the industry pays $58 million per year in state and local taxes, along with $20 to $30 million in land leases.
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