I cringe when I hear support for the proposed wind farm project based on the minimal economic impact it will provide to our schools. Tradewind likes to throw out lots of numbers without any context behind them, so let me put in perspective exactly what we will gain, while greatly jeopardizing the health, safety and welfare of those who will live near the turbines day-to-day.
Yes, the school district will receive some monetary gain. But let’s break it down.
What will be received won’t be close to the level of funding provided by the power plant. We need to stop comparing the two. One will not replace the other. Those who say we need this project because the power plant may not be here in the future haven’t done the math. They are actually signing a deal that will put our schools in great financial danger if the power plant went offline.
The amount of proposed benefit from the wind farm (all projected at this point since Tradewind’s special use permit is alarmingly vague) would be approximately 5 percent of the district’s operating budget. That’s it. Again, this will not “save” the school district if things go bad. There are other ways to gain 5 percent that will not reduce property values or negatively impact health and quality of life of residents.
Wind companies have historically targeted areas with struggling schools to prey on their fears. And after operation begins and the money comes in, the school district still finds itself in bad shape. Because again, it’s not that much money. Take a look at other school districts who were hoping to be “saved” by wind farms. It doesn’t work.
And let’s not forget that our tax dollars are paying for the subsidies that build these wind projects. Our money is making Tradewinds millions, but comparatively we will only see pennies come back to our community. In 2016 a proposed 1 percent sales tax that would have directly benefited facility upgrades for our schools did not pass. Yet, now we are desperate for additional funds? This doesn’t add up.
Progress is great and vital. But progress for the sake of appearance, or done out of fear, will not net a positive result. Instead, we need to be taking a holistic approach to progress for the county. This should be happening through the new comprehensive plan being developed right now for DeWitt County and soon to be voted on by our county board. In reality, allowing wind farms to surround our communities actually limits any future progress in those areas where they are built. And that will limit progress for 40 years!
Let’s not handcuff progress; let’s be strategic. I support the county board candidates who have shown genuine interest in doing what is best for the county: