I went to the Regional Planning Commission meeting last week, which was focused on the windfarm proposed for DeWitt County by Tradewind. The commission allowed those attending to comment on their feelings about the project.
I was flabbergasted by the reasons given by those in opposition. Let me cite a few examples.
“I won’t be able to hunt and fish.” I was unaware that a wind turbine had any effect on the number of fish or their ability to breed or on the number of deer or pheasants. In counties that already have wind turbines, people continue to fish, and deer continue to be a hazard on the roadways, so I assume the deer population has not diminished in those counties.
According to a study made by the Pheasants Forever group in Iowa, which gets 36 percent of its electric power from wind turbines, there has been no effect on the pheasant numbers. More birds are killed colliding with cell towers than wind turbines. No one wants to give up their cell phones. Birds are also killed by cars. No one wants to give those up either.
“I’m worried that my horses won’t breed.” The biological need for a species to reproduce is very strong. From Highway 51 that passes by Maroa, a driver can see a large herd of black cattle which pastures under and around the wind towers, as well as their calves in the spring. When asked about the effects of the towers on his cattle, the farmer will answer that they have no effect. He then will say with a grin, “but I have noticed the calves’ tails rotating in a circle right after they’re born.” He treats the question with all the seriousness it deserves.
“The Bible says we should oppose these wind towers.” This drew a lot of applause from those opposed to the towers. The Bible does say that God placed the stewardship of the earth in our hands. Over the past 100 years, we’ve been using primarily coal and oil for fuel and electricity. The result has been pollution, a depletion of the ozone layer, and climate change. Harvesting wind power seems to me a good alternative form of energy and a way of being a good steward of God’s earth. Being in favor of wind power does not mean I’m out of favor with God.
“The towers will be bad for the Mahomet aquifer.” Putting concrete pads 70 or more feet above the aquifer with multiple intervening layers of soil will not affect the aquifer. If someone believes this, they should stop putting basements under their houses, stop creating buildings with concrete pads, and stop building parking lots.
“It will be hard for farmers and crop dusters to work around.” The farmers I know in Macon, Logan, and McLean counties say they have no problem farming around the wind towers, and the crop dusters they hire say they have no problem working around the towers. I grew up in southeastern Illinois. My hometown is an oil boomtown. On the farm where I grew up and on the farms around me, the farmers had no trouble working around the oil wells that dotted the landscape. We did have trouble with salt water spills, and fracking has created a multitude of earthquakes, particularly in Oklahoma. Surely wind power is better than this scenario.
“My house will have up to 46 hours of shadow flicker a year.” That means an average of 7 ½ minutes of flicker per day under sunny conditions. Not every day is sunny, though. I realize this could be annoying, but I suggest closing the blinds, working in another part of the house, facing the other direction while outside, or taking a break from the barbecue for a few minutes if this bothers the people so much. Shadow flicker is like driving past a row of trees in the sunshine and having alternating sunshine and shadow on your car. It can be annoying but is not terminal.
“Everyone here who spoke in favor of the wind farm is greedy and getting paid.”
Excuse me, my income comes from my teacher’s pension, and I’ve never taken a dime from Tradewind. The same is true for others who spoke in favor of the windfarm. Only one person on Tradesind’s payroll spoke. He was at the very beginning and was up front about it.
People who will receive money from the wind farm include the farmers who have contracts with the company, the people who build the wind farm, about two dozen permanent employees, and our schools, the county, and our library, in the form of taxes.
“I don’t want to look at them.” Fair enough. This is the main reason these people don’t want the wind towers. They do not say how we offset the loss of tax money and jobs or how we mitigate the effects of fossil fuels on the earth’s climate if we turn down this project.
What seems greedy to me is expecting everyone to pay more taxes so that the people against the project don’t have to look at the turbines.