By Sherri Lange — May 4, 2022
“Krista Kester of rural [Nebraska] said the noise, visual blight and lower land values she expects with proposed wind farm would be devastating to the countryside where her family built a house about 20 years ago. ‘I spend virtually all my time when the weather is permitting outside, I mean I’m an outside gal, that’s just what I am and the notion of that being gone was, you know, really disturbing.’”
– Quoted in Dan Swanson, “Opposition Rising Against Gigantic Windmill Turbines,” News Channel Nebraska, April 26, 2022.
It’s a quintessential American Midwest town that, among other things, hosts Food With Friends events. The last thing the neighbors want is politics necessitated by a government-enabled project that negatively affects their economics and even health.
A four-hour meeting this April 20 by the Fulton Township Board (Nebraska) deliberated on issuing a special land use permit application to Heartland Farms Wind Project, consisting of 84 sites and 72 turbines in Fulton, Washington, Newark, New Haven, North Shade and North Star Townships.
The Fulton Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously against the utility scale wind farm, good news to the large majority of the 100+ participants. The project’s parent, Invenergy, a Chicago based wind promoter/developer, is back to the drawing board.
Bryce: 328 Project Rejections
The macro picture of project pushback of government-enabled wind and solar projects has been chronicled by the leading energy journalist/researcher Robert Bryce. “This morning, I published a piece in Forbes which includes the latest updates to the Renewable Rejection Database,” he wrote.
I was compelled to write this piece because the big media outlets continue to ignore, or minimize, the anger in rural America over the encroachment of big renewable projects…. The vote in Otoe County is the fifth rejection in 2022. It also marks the 328th time that government entities from Maine to Hawaii have rejected or restricted wind [and solar] projects since 2015….
… you won’t hear about these hundreds of rejections from the Sierra Club. Nor will you read about it in the New York Times even though the resistance to the encroachment of big renewable projects is so widespread, and so many communities in New York are rejecting wind and solar projects…. Nor will you hear about the widespread resistance to renewables on National Public Radio, which as I explained in a March 7 article for Quillette, has been publishing pro-wind propaganda that is masquerading as news.
Nor will you hear about it from academics at elite universities like Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Texas, who are producing elaborate net-zero models that require deploying massive amounts of wind-energy capacity.
- Much of the opposition is centered in the Midwest, which has the nation’s greatest concentration of turbines. Opponents have banded together to block wind projects in at least half a dozen states, including Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, and Michigan. Disputes are still being waged in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Maryland. Intense opposition also exists in parts of the Northeast, including Maine, New York, and Vermont.
- Dan Litchfield, a senior manager at Invenergy, “one of the world’s largest wind-energy developers,” indicates that “A lot of people tell me they like the look of wind turbines,” he added. “They find them graceful.” But opponents in signatures garnered by the wind company in South Dakota, Lincoln County, easily defeated a 150-turbine project.
- In Maine, plans to erect turbines atop ridges have outraged people worried about marring the rugged landscape and hurting tourism. The group Friends of Maine’s Mountains has been fighting wind-energy developments in the state Legislature, before regulatory panels and in the courts. It has managed to slow or stop nearly all of the proposals.
- Flash mobbing in Indiana: some claim opponents are well organized and branded, Tee shirted, and pamphleteered. “Gregg Townsend, the auditor in Tipton County, Indiana … said activists would “gin up anger and frustration” in many counties. He blames them for stopping wind projects in Tipton and at least six other Indiana counties.”
The unanimous decision to deny Heartland Wind the total access needed for its master plan speaks to the growing ferment of angst and anger against taxpayer-pocket-heavy developers.
Congratulations to the residents of Fulton Township, and applaud Melissa Zemla, Treasurer, Chad Marecek, Clerk, and Trustees Robert Baxter and Michael Oberlitner. As Robert Bryce reminds us: “Rural America gets bad vibrations from big wind.” The bottom line is that, as noted, people care about their health, their economies, and their rural lives.