A 2.5 megawatt tower, operating at a 40% efficiency rate, can generate a revenue of approximately $640,000 per year at $0.07 cents per kilowatt. In Washington County, the current building permit for an entire wind farm is under $1,000. A new building permit schedule of .02% of the cost each tower has been proposed, paid for by the wind companies. The moratorium needs to be extended long enough to implement this new building permit schedule. If it is not, wind companies will be grandfathered in and merely pay less than $1,000 for an entire wind farm. This fee is less than county residents pay to build a new home in Washington County. Questions for the public to ponder:
• Who is paying for this building permit? Is it the landowner or the wind companies? Who SHOULD it be?
• Will the commissioners extend the moratorium long enough to update the building permit schedule?
• Should the county be collecting less than $1,000 for a wind farm, or should it be collecting approximately $20,000 per tower? Which option will best support our county? Which option will best support wind companies?
• Do subsidies last just through construction, or extend through the operating life of each tower? Considering depreciation schedules and subsidies, what is the actual cost to each of us, as taxpayers? Will the expiration of subsidies make wind energy non-competitive?
Landowners own the land and everything above and below it with the exception of retained rights. Wind, sun, rain, and snow belong to Mother Nature. Questions for the public to ponder:
• Are we willing to give away the wind and sun with no benefit to non-participating community members?
• Are we willing to let companies harvest wind and sun, restricting access to recreation and tranquility that has long been enjoyed on the Great Plains?
• Is corporate America willing to give their panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains to another skyscraper? Why should rural America give up their views of the Eastern Plains?
• Who will conduct the studies on noise levels and post-construction shadow flickers? Will it be the wind company or an independent, third party?
In summary, the wind industry appears to use the tactic of Divide and Conquer! They are pitting neighbor against neighbor over property rights and the God almighty dollar. The community needs to have major input on how our county playground looks and operates for the present and the next 30-60 years. Technology is improving so fast that these very issues may be obsolete in the near future. Small wind/solar production benefiting all farmers and homeowners who wait to participate should be an option. The Local Electric Association could be the vehicle to accomplish this. The county can and should lead us to a future that preserves our quality of life, our western etiquette and our country values that our children and grandchildren will thank us for over and over!
I welcome all response and input from the community.
Steve Diamond, Local Farmer and Rancher
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