The Adair County Board of Supervisors seemed to state collectively last Wednesday that the county needs to take a break from any further development of wind farms and elected that they will place a cap on the number of such wind turbines so that no more than what are currently contracted for can be built.
The specific legal wording of placing such a cap has been drafted this week and was expected to be placed in front of the supervisors for their approval at this week’s meeting.
“With all the different construction phases going on and there are rumors and this and that, there’s a fine line of what is grandfathered into our contract, is it easements or is it contracts,” supervisors chair Matt Wedemeyer said. “I don’t want to see infill of our current wind farms with more and more turbines at least until everything’s done [with the current ones]. It gives them a chance to be done, get out of here, and then we’ll know exactly where we stand.”
In May of last year, MidAmerican Energy announced that 125 wind turbines would be installed as part of the Arbor Hill wind farm, which primarily covers the northeastern quadrant of the county. The Orient wind farm project, over the southern half of the county, was to add 150 turbines to the total with an option of adding 100 more.
There are two sides to every coin.
Many see the great financial benefit wind farm projects bring to Adair County. Others have shared health risks with county officials since the project was first announced and say quality of life is seriously being hindered by the wind turbines and aspects of the construction process.
“Until you have lived in that — and I’m not talking about the noise because the ones around my house aren’t turned on yet — it’s if you’ve been somewhere, have had a bad day or if you’ve lost a loved one, that ‘going home’ feeling is not there anymore. It has been taken away from this county,” said Supervisor Jodie Hoadley. “Visitors coming back have asked what have you guys done to this county. We have enough and have got to heal some of the hard feelings and hurt that have happened to this county. We’ve gotta try, and I feel a cap will go a long way in doing that.”
With the Orient and Arbor Hill projects adding to existing wind farms in Adair County, the total number of wind turbines in the county now exceeds 550. The Supervisors previously instated setbacks on the wind turbines from roads and property lines, but they felt now is the time to take a break from the development for the county to catch its collective breath.
“This is just my opinion, but I see a substation up in Madison County that is probably built for a larger capacity than what it’s receiving and you don’t want things to not be operating at capacity, so is it going to be an incentive to trickle back over the line?,” Wedemeyer said.
David Homan also agreed it’s time to put a temporary cap on further wind energy development.
“I thought about it all night and this morning and I think we’ve reached a point, myself, where it’s nothing more than taking a break from it,” Homan said. “It’s just saying that we’ve got this many and that’s what we’re going to have for now and if we do have an opportunity down the road, or if the next board has an opportunity to change their mind, if they want to they can.”
John Twombly shared his dissent of taking away the rights of property owners who still want wind turbines.
“I’m not real fond of taking away somebody’s rights, and I think that when we vote on it, that’s what we’re voting on,” Twombly said. “I’m not saying I won’t vote for it, but I’m saying you’ve gotta think about that. I don’t like [taking away rights] but I do understand what you’re saying.”
The supervisors voted to waive the three meeting requirement to amend Ordinance 31A, the ordinance that was passed in October 2018 dealing with setbacks, and then voted to place a cap of 555 wind turbines in Adair County.