On Monday morning, the Worth County Board of Supervisors met to take action on the Worthwhile Wind development agreement.
Worthwhile Wind is a wind farm proposed in Worth and Winnebago counties by Invenergy.
Invenergy claims that the project would harvest enough energy to power 60,000 American homes and would inject $2.5 million into the Worth County community every year through new revenues and landowner payments.
Invenergy representative Mark Crowl spent time prior to the supervisors taking action on the development agreement talking about how the Worthwhile Wind development agreement was sufficient protection for Worth County residents.
“This (development agreement) adds layers of protections in places where there already are some, and adds protections in areas where there aren’t any,” Crowl said. “What I want and what the project wants is the ability to turn the page.”
Supervisors A.J. Stone and Enos Loberg, both said that the 1,500-foot setback in the Worthwhile Wind development agreement wasn’t sufficient, and that Invenergy hadn’t negotiated with the county in good faith.
“What good does it do for me to pass a 1,500-foot setback, when we have problems out there (Deer Creek) because of a 1,500-foot setback,” Loberg asked Crowl.
Invenergy’s Deer Creek project, from 2016 in the county township of the same name, verbally promised 1,500-foot setbacks for residents without an easement agreement, but did not deliver. Many have been critical of Invenergy and the Deer Creek project throughout the Worthwhile Wind process, including supervisors Loberg and A.J. Stone.
Crowl said that the development agreement as written has protections for Worth County’s residents, so what happened in Deer Creek wouldn’t happen with Worthwhile Wind.
“That package of protections is on par with or better than some of the more restrictive ordinances and agreements in the state of Iowa,” Crowl said. “That (development agreement) gives all of these protections, goes as far as we can, and doesn’t kill the development.”
Crowl also pushed back on the idea that there was no negotiation with the county on the development agreement, and that negotiations with the county even took the potential project space from 30,000 acres to just 500 acres.
Supervisor Mark Smeby spoke more positively of the development agreement, saying that the project would bring a lot of good to the Worth County community by bringing in revenue, which could potentially go toward projects like infrastructure improvements.
Following discussion, supervisor Stone asked if there was a motion to approve the Worthwhile Wind development agreement. Smeby motioned to approve the development agreement, but the development agreement failed to receive a second motion from either Stone or Loberg, meaning no further action could be taken.
The supervisors also continued to discuss the possibility of implementing an ordinance on wind energy, but the supervisors agreed that the current draft of the ordinance proposed by the Worth County Planning and Zoning Commission needed revisions before any action could be taken.
The supervisors stated that the wind ordinance would be discussed further at their next meeting on Oct. 11.
Worthwhile Wind’s future is now in limbo, but Invenergy has remained adamant throughout the past few months that any potential ordinance on wind energy would not apply to Worthwhile Wind due to having vested rights in the community.
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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