I am an interested possible beneficiary of the Jordan Creek Wind Project (JCWP). I live out of state and nowhere near Jordan Creek. I have very little, if any, control of whether the property involving me will lend their land to the project. However, I have spent my youth working on the farms involved and knew well the people surrounding them. They are of course all gone now, but their next generation is still farming the same land. Therefore I felt obligated to research what was going on in Warren County concerning JCWP.
I had heard there was considerable opposition to the project. Personally, I have grave reservations about the project because of the older tradition of farming in the area, and what I think my ancestors would have thought of it. But, to be transparent, my ancestors were very comfortable from farm income and did not or would not need the compensation, and were very conservative over use of farmland in Warren County.
I found that approximately 546 Warren County land owners signed up to allow use of their land to JCWP. Some of them closely connected with the same land that concerns me either formerly or currently. This in comparison to 100 signers of a petition to oppose the JCWP. So the politics of the County Commissioners were not artificially contrived to seek a special interest. It is also popularly agreed the project aims to reduce electrical rates, provide a lot of construction jobs, and increase taxes received from power companies. How this will affect property taxes on win farms is less clear.
To my knowledge no hard money has changed hands between landowners and the JCWP, nor have any contracts been executed, so currently it is pie in the sky. From looking at the map of proposed sites it appears the power company wants to link Warren county wind turbines with the currently successful Benton county project to enlarge the grid which would be the motive for seeking out Warren County in the 1st place. So one question to ask yourself- do we want to be like Benton County?
I further discovered, in opposition to my expectations, that according to media, people are not complaining about the Benton County’s enormous wind farm which is adjacent to Warren County. However the input was mostly from compensated farmers, so I have some reservations about that. Tippecanoe, Tipton, and perhaps other counties have or apparently will, ban wind farms. This issue has a very strong political element. The county commissioners hold the cards, and the power companies offer the inducements. Furthermore, the clean energy wing of both parties are strong supporters of wind farms. The financial considerations are almost all positive except that if you read appendix ‘G’ of the Warren County Decommissioning Agreement, it appears the landowners have no claim in the proceeds except at the discretion of the commissioners. “The Company represents that it has not granted and the Company shall not grant to the Landowners or any other party rights to the Restoration Fund senior to
the rights of the County to the Restoration Fund.” https://www.warrencounty.in.gov/jordan-creek-wind-farm I find this troubling.
The environmental facts tend negative, even though the energy is claimed clean. It is clean, once it is completed and operating as far as natural resources go. But there are extremely negative environment factors concerned re low frequency noise, flicker, red lights at night, migratory birds, and some others. There has been design improvement to limit LFN.
If you happen to be the compensated farmer you have no physical, health, or aesthetic complaints about wind farms. You are miraculously immunized. However if you are an uncompensated neighbor all the physical annoyances become very prevalent. ( LFN. Headaches, depression, flicker, annoying red lights at night, etc. which by the way are real and documented as actual effects.
The law on all this is in its infancy. Most lawsuits, if not all, have failed because of the public policy supporting “clean” energy as envisioned by the power companies, whether it is actually true or not. There is a case to be made that the resources used to create a wind power turbine contaminate its clean claim almost to the point of little or no return. It is also very difficult to prove damages. The power companies have a strong defense with their expert witnesses.
The technology of wind turbines has advanced to the point where strategic locations and reduction of LFN can remove many of the impediment objections of neighbors. Another factor in all this is who was there first? The wind farm or the complaining neighbor? That is often a deciding factor in a court case. You see this in the cases of hog farms and Indiana’s Right to Farm Act. So what else have they a right to farm? Maybe obviously –wind.
But my plea in all this is that if wind farms are here to stay, at least for the next 20 years, I ask the landowners involved to make the wind farm operators and entrepreneurs do it right.
• Make them locate the turbines not to annoy neighbors.
• Make sure the agreement protects the landowner from liability suits.
• Make sure the removal process is bonded and that landowners have first claim on any decommissioning process.
• Make sure the latest environmental technology is employed.
• Employ a well qualified contract lawyer to look after your interests and spot all the mouse traps and potholes in the agreement.
As the history of energy companies, like Enron, has taught us that these corporations can be spider webs of business organizations designed to skate free if things go south. You can take it as a yes that your interests in these respects are rather secondary.
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