As a landowner in DeWitt County, I have been deeply invested in the issues surrounding the special use permit submitted by Tradewind Energy for an industrial wind complex. It is vital for county board members to be informed about several key issues, among a plethora of concerns, before voting.
FACT: DeWitt County has demonstrated overwhelming opposition to this project, and elected leaders should listen to the voice of their constituents. At the November 2019 RPC hearing, only three speakers presented in support of the project versus 22 in opposition. That’s over seven times greater representation from the community who proved that local support does not exist. The same was true at the January and February 2020 ZBA hearing where 14 speakers in support presented and 68 in opposition testified. The same is true with public attendance. At most, 4 percent of audience members at the ZBA hearing was comprised of supporters whereas 59 percent were in opposition. Typically, only 20-30 percent of audience members were supporters, but 70-80 percent of the audience represented the overwhelming majority of the community who understand the grievous cost of wind energy in DeWitt County.
FACT: Red flashing lights are the primary complaint of all who live within eye shot of industrial wind. An aircraft lighting mitigation system can reduce the frequency of those annoying lights by 95 percent. Currently, the only approved FAA approved lighting mitigation system is ADLS (aircraft detection lighting system). ADLS is activated ONLY when low flying aircraft (1,000 feet or lower) come within three nautical miles of the wind farm, activating the flashing lights until the plane exits the area. Tradewind has not pursued approval for their selected ADLs system from the county board as required by our ordinance. Board member, Lance Reece, who in 2018 proposed the ordinance language from “requiring” ADLS to “pursing” ADLS said during his proposal, “But if we don’t, as it was said earlier, ask them to do it, they’re probably not going to do it. Ultimately I think we should at least make them make the attempt.” Tradewind has not made the attempt with the FAA. Failure to comply with this DeWitt County ordinance is reason alone to deny the special use permit.
FACT: Another clear violation of our ordinances gives further reason for denial of the special use permit. DeWitt County ordinance requires submission of “an estimated cost of decommissioning provided by a mutually agreed upon licensed professional engineer.” Tradewind provided only a draft of a decommissioning plan, written by their independently selected firm. Board members must save the county from costly repercussions by denying this permit.
FACT: Tradewind stated several times during the ZBA hearing that elements of their application would be more finalized during the building permit process. If a special use permit is approved by the full board, board members no longer have a say in the issuance of building permits. The time to enforce compliance is now!
FACT: District A is represented by three board members, Cole Ritter, Camille Redman and Lance Reece. Cole Ritter did not attend the May 21 regular county board meeting where discussion of wind energy was prevalent, nor the June 2 special vote that was scheduled to take place. This means landowners like myself were not equally represented for a project that will affect them most. It does not seem logical that those who will be most personally affected by this decision are not fully represented. Mr. Ritter, I urge you to attend and represent the voice of your constituents who have made it overwhelmingly clear that the Alta II wind project should not be constructed in your district.
FACT: Five wind towers incorrectly listed in the application as Clinton School District revenue generators are actually on Olympia School District property, making Tradewind’s projections for Clinton schools inaccurate.
FACT: In 2019, the Regional Planning Commission (RPC) did not recommend that the county board approve a special use permit application submitted by Tradewind. The ZBA also denied recommendation of approval. The full county board denied approval of the permit as well. The RPC then again heard fresh testimony about a second application and yet again did not recommend approval. After 51 hours of testimony in 2020, the ZBA also denied recommending that the county board approve the second application. How can a county board member provide a “yes” vote in good conscience, having failed to attend any of the ZBA hearings where first-hand testimony was given and denying the recommendation of those who invested in hearing 107 speakers present?
The above are facts. Not proposals. Not empty promises. A decision which should place the quality and safety of residents’ lives above all else must be based on current facts, all of which support unrelenting proof that the special use permit for industrial wind in DeWitt County should be denied.