Sunday, April 19, 2009

Turbines a windy blight on land

Kay Ornberg, Rollag, Minnesota
Letter to the editor In-Forum, April 19, 2009
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As I drove into Fargo from Rollag, Minn., our home for seven years, I saw my signs of spring. The dogwood branches were blazing red, willow trees a bright lemon gold, and another bush, nameless, had brilliant orange branches. The drive was wonderful and painful at the same time.

From Glyndon to the southeast corner of Clay County, a little of Otter Tail and Becker counties, the land will be covered with a possible 500 wind turbines.

Because of a mandate from the state of Minnesota, by 2025

25 percent of our electricity should be produced via renewable sources. We know of three wind energy companies that are quietly securing land leases from landowners for their towers.

After researching wind- power-generated electricity, we know these facts:

1) Wind turbines are inefficient.

2) They are costly to install.

3) The taxpayer eventually pays for the construction and then pays again with a higher cost for the electricity produced.

4) There are health risks to some people from living close to the towers. The noise is constant unless there is no wind, and the turbines are louder at night.

5) The light flicker from the rotating blades is also a health problem.

6) Miles of transmission lines and roads to reach each tower cover the land.

7) Towers are getting taller and taller to catch the wind currents. These are the same currents used by migrating birds and waterfowl.

The Clay County Commission has instructed the Clay County Planning Commission to address questions about the health risks, setback requirements from residents and roads, habitat damage, road building and maintenance, and other factors. These issues are answered by Project Resources Co. in its application for a permit to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The answers are short and sometimes derisive in the application.

We are appreciative of the commission’s active participation. The time frame is short. An informational meeting for the public will be held by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at 6:30 p.m. April 29 at the Galaxie Supper Club in Barnesville. This meeting is to explain and answer questions about the project in the Parke and Tansem township areas south, west and east of Rollag.

Acciona, a Spanish company, is in the process of securing land for its site northwest of Rollag. Noble, a wind power company with New York and East Coast experience, is further along in its permitting process in the Glyndon area. A fourth project extends the lines of towers from Clay County to Pelican Rapids.

This is the biggest event that Clay County has had to experience. We are struggling because Minnesota has declared the mandate and the public has had no voice in the matter.

The only ones benefitting are the large investors, corporations that provide the capital and reap the tax credits and breaks. The electricity to be produced will be needed in Minneapolis and Chicago. Other sources of renewable energy – geothermal and conservation – are much less expensive and are more efficient.

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