April 15, 2024

Renewable energy group representative meets with county

Three weeks after approving a three-month abeyance on all industrial energy applications, Union County Board of Supervisors Monday heard from a organization that supports renewable energy projects.

Elliott Meyer, a field director for the Iowa chapter of the Land and Liberty Coalition, explained the purpose of the group and what information it has to offer with renewable energy. “The Land & Liberty Coalition (L&LC) is a state-based group of local citizens who support utility-scale renewable energy developments. The coalition consists of farmers, landowners, and key stakeholders who are concerned about protecting their private property rights, developing their communities, and being good stewards of the land,” according to a Facebook page.

The organization has chapters in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia.

“We encourage some workable ordinances that can be beneficial to the community and protect the community and encourage development,” he Meyer said. “We believe renewable energy in Iowa has been a success story due to the really proud conservatives.”

Meyer said that success shows in the benefits in Iowa including 5,300 related jobs, $23 billion in capital and $58.4 million in local communities, mainly through taxes.

Other information he provided included surveys that show 85% of Iowa conservatives agree to continue or place more emphasis on solar-powered projects. Another survey showed 83% in favor of wind and 93% in favor of people having the right to lease their land to wind projects.

“It really comes down to a property rights issue for us,” he said. “The board of supervisors might not be sure where to go; but at the end of the day landowners know what is best for their land. The decision should solely rest with that landowner.”

Meyer offered to share his organization’s collection of renewable energy ordinances from across the state.

Supervisors asked about Meyer about setback distances, which was a point of information for Union County residents who spoke to supervisors Jan. 9 about reviewing and revising the county’s wind-turbine ordinance. Setback is the minimal distance between a wind turbine and a structure, like a residential house. Meyer said the ordinances range from 1,000 to 1,250 feet.

Supervisor Dennis Hopkins said he’d like to see the distances since presentations like this can have a tendency to “cherry pick” and show the most appealing information.

Union County’s setback is 1,500 feet which some people said Jan. 9 should be reviewed. Roger Vicker, Chad and Francine Ide were in attendance Monday and at the Jan. 9 meeting. None of them spoke during Meyer’s presentation.

Before Christmas, supervisors learned of a wind turbine-related company meeting with landowners mainly across southern parts of the county. Protect our Land’s Future informed the board of the efforts. At that time Protect our Land’s Future Vice Chairman Vicker requested the supervisors approve an abeyance on all new industrial energy applications. An abeyance is a temporary suspension.

Union County has had 34 turbines since 2020, all generally located in the northwest corner.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.