After months of discussion, the future of the Worthwhile Wind project could be decided in the coming days.
On Monday morning, the Worth County Board of Supervisors met to discuss Invenergy’s Worthwhile Wind project, as well as the proposed ordinance on wind energy drafted partially in response to the project.
Invenergy representative Mark Crowl spoke to the supervisors on behalf of the proposed development agreement, while Worth County Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Jeff Gorball spoke on behalf of the proposed ordinance on wind energy.
Gorball was the first of the two to speak, claiming that any passing of a development agreement while the county was still under a moratorium on commercial wind energy would be at best, inappropriate, and at worst, illegal.
The moratorium on commercial wind projects was passed earlier this year by the supervisors on April 12 and has an expiration date of July 1, 2022.
He later went on to again advocate for the proposed ordinance to be passed, as opposed to a potential development agreement.
“The belief of the zoning commission and the majority of feedback received was that the proposed ordinance is comprehensive, and the best path forward for the county,” Gorball said. “Remember, it was unanimously approved by the commission.”
Crowl spoke after Gorball and was critical of Gorball’s speaking out against Worthwhile Wind and stating that his bias in the project is apparent.
“I do think it’s somewhat telling of someone in that position to have such a strong opposition to a process that’s outside of the zoning ordinance process,” Crowl said. “I think it’s very telling that he (Gorball) uses some of his time here to speak to such a strong degree against a development agreement that is a really sound and strong solution to the unique circumstances of the Worthwhile Wind project.”
Crowl went on to talk about the development agreement, claiming that Invenergy has been flexible with the county during negotiations.
Crowl pointed to the shrinking of the proposed project space from 30,000 acres to just 500, as well as the creation of regulations on setback and flicker which weren’t present in the county beforehand, as ways that Invenergy has gone “above and beyond” to meet the county’s wishes.
His statements concluded with a request to vote on the development agreement as Invenergy is ready to begin the next phase of its project. The proposed development agreement has also been posted to the Worth County website for anyone to read.
All three of the supervisors agreed they are nearly ready, and the date was set for the next meeting on the morning of Monday, Oct. 4, to vote on the development agreement.
The supervisors haven’t said officially which way they will decide to vote next week, but both Enos Loberg and A.J. Stone have been critical of Invenergy in recent meetings.
Stone went as far as to indicate he may be voting no on the development agreement.
“I’ve been trying to make sure the people who want these turbines on their land can get them, but it’s not happening,” said Stone. “In my head, and in my heart I know it’s not right.”
Stone said his reasoning for those statements was due to Invenergy’s unwillingness to negotiate with the county on things like setback and shadow flicker.
“They want it their way or they want it no way,” Stone said.
The proposed wind ordinance was also discussed briefly, but the supervisors agreed that further discussion was needed. It will potentially be discussed in further detail in the Monday, Oct. 4, supervisors meeting.
Invenergy has said several times in recent months that any potential ordinance passed by Worth County would not have an impact on the Worthwhile Wind project due to its vested rights in the community.
Worthwhile Wind is a wind farm proposed in Worth and Winnebago counties by Invenergy.
Opponents of Worthwhile Wind have pointed to the negative impacts of wind turbines on the health, safety and welfare of county residents as a reason for more regulation. Proponents of the project claim that nobody has had an issue with wind turbines until recently, and point to the $4.8 million in tax revenue the project would bring in for infrastructure improvements to the county.
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