Supervisors strike down ordinance that would ban future wind energy projects

A photo of the Wellsburg Wind Farm, which was constructed in 2013 and 2014. (Photo by Ryan Bingman/Used with permission)

Another recommendation from the planning and zoning commission, another public hearing and another faceoff between opposing sides in the debate over wind energy conversion in Grundy County. On Tuesday morning, the board of supervisors struck down a proposed ordinance change that would have effectively banned any future large-scale wind energy projects in the county after an hour-long hearing that was moved to a courtroom to accommodate a crowd of approximately 30 patrons.

           

After the supervisors voted unanimously in April to overrule the P and Z commission and allow for the construction of the Ivester Wind Farm, the commission met in August and voted 4-3 to recommend that the county remove wind energy conversion systems over 100 kilowatts as a principle permitted use in A-2 agricultural districts.

           

Supervisor Chuck Bakker requested to postpone the hearing after it was opened, citing the fact that changing the ordinance now would more than likely kill the already-approved Ivester Wind Farm, but his motion died without a second. Because EDF Renewable Energy, the developer behind the Ivester project, still needs to secure additional parcels for rezoning as it hopes to eventually construct a 90-megawatt project on the western edge of the county, a ban on any further turbines would have jeopardized the economic viability of the current project.

           

During the hearing, 11 people spoke in favor of the ordinance change, and most mentioned the high quality of Grundy County’s soil, the seed corn industry, government subsidies and what will happen to the large turbines when they are no longer in use as primary reasons for opposing the proliferation of wind energy in the county. Laura Hommel, who was the first to address the board, referenced the voluntary buffer zone recommended for eagle’s nests (1.6 miles from the nearest turbine) and asked why neighboring landowners who did not wish to participate in the project weren’t given the same consideration. 

 

Read more in this week's Grundy Register.