MidAmerican Energy is proposing to construct a series of wind turbines in southwest Iowa. But, the renewable energy initiative is facing backlash from local community members.
The company would like to build a 400 megawatt capacity wind farm with the capacity to serve about 144,000 Iowa homes. The project would consist of constructing anywhere from 90 to 140 wind turbines in northern Mills and southern Pottawattamie counties.
Many residents living near the proposed wind farm are concerned about how it will alter their community. They worry about how it could disrupt life in the small towns of Silver Creek and Treynor.
“It’s something that is really unthinkable for us to see,” said Corey Vorthmann, a farmer in Treynor who opposes the project. “That we would wake up every morning and not really be able to take in the beauty of mother nature, but have it polluted with 300 foot wind turbines.”
Vorthmann said he’s concerned about the noise and light that wind turbines produce. He said he also worries about how construction of the large turbines may impact crop yields. While he supports renewable energy, he said he doesn’t think wind turbines are the solution.
“We understand that MidAmerican is trying to reduce its carbon footprint but, for us as farmers, we’ve been engaged in conservation and sustainability long before it was sexy to do so,” he said.
The wind farm is a part of MidAmerican’s larger initiative to reach zero net emissions of greenhouse gasses. The company has invested $14 billion dollars in wind energy since 2004. Last year, 88 percent of the company’s power came from renewable energy sources.
“We’ve been investing in wind energy for years, and we have an established record of wind energy,” said spokesperson Geoff Greenwood. “And we’re not done yet. We want to add more renewable energy to our energy portfolio.”
A resident of Silver City, Charity Duey, said she opposed the project because of the uncertainty that surrounds its environmental impact. In particular, she pointed to the unknown effects it may have on migratory birds for the area. She said the community doesn’t have enough information on the potential impact.
“It’s not an anti-green movement. It’s just looking at it as a whole and going ‘Is this a fit for our community?’. And, that’s where people are going ‘I don’t think this is going to work for us’,” she said.
Duey and Vorthmann are not alone in their opposition of the project. Almost 800 people have joined a Facebook group dedicated to stopping the ‘Silver Creek Wind Farm’.
Greenwood said he believed the wind farm could have a positive impact on the community. The wind farm could generate up to $187 million in property taxes for the two counties and he estimates it will create 300 jobs.
The project is in its development phase. MidAmerican is gauging the interest of area landowners in voluntary easements. As the project progresses, the company plans to request Mills County to raise its construction height limit from 80 feet to the 600 feet it will take to accommodate the turbines.
It hopes to have the project complete by the end of 2024. Vorthmann said he and his neighbors are working hard to keep that from happening.
“We feel confident that there will be enough landowners in our area that will band together and stop the Silver Creek Wind Farm,” he said. “We’re gonna do our due diligence along the way to make sure that happens.”
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