Landowners and concerned parties throughout Cerro Gordo county met last week to discuss a potential wind energy project that would impact land south of Mason City.
Concerns landowners had surrounding upcoming wind farm projects included effects on the water table, environmental impact on protected species, how windmills affect wind patterns, decommissioning and recycling of the structures.
“This isn’t anything political, I just want to share some information that I learned about,” said Nancy Gibbons, landowner and meeting organizer. Gibbons said she was approached by Invenergy, a renewable energy company out of Chicago, with a land easement contract a few months ago.
“A project coming into our county, of the magnitude of over 140 windmills, is something that could change our county for 50 or more years to come,” Gibbons said. “So I thought people should know and get together and give their input.”
Other attendees had also approached with land easement contracts, though none of them had yet signed, having felt their respective interests were not protected, noting that the language within the contract would prohibit tree planting, construction of new buildings, and hunting on their property.
“This is flawed at so many levels,” one attendee said. “It looks like they’re taking advantage of the individuals in flyover country, again.”
Tim Latham, Cerro Gordo County supervisor, was present at the meeting. As of now, he said the Board of Supervisors had not been approached for permits from any energy company and that no public move has been made from a renewable energy company to place a wind farm in the county.
Worth County was referenced extensively during the meeting, as a wind project there has received a lot of pushback from residents, however Latham was optimistic about Cerro Gordo’s position in creating regulations. Cerro Gordo has county-wide zoning in place, whereas Worth County had to create zoning in order to regulate wind energy.
Landowners talked about creating regulations around the number of windmills allowed in the county, setbacks from property lines rather than houses, the distance of setbacks, noise ordinances, aircraft detection lighting systems, and setbacks for eagles’ nests. They also talked about fair contracts, county taxes for windmills, and where the energy produced by a wind tower is dispersed.
“There is no stopping them,” Latham said of incoming wind energy companies. “But what we can do is create regulations to protect landowners.
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