Are Wind Turbines in Henry County’s Future?

Over 50 people attended a town hall meeting held Tuesday in Swedesburg. They brought their questions about two possible wind energy projects proposed for northern Henry County. RWE Renewables and Liberty Power both develop, own and operate wind farms in the US and Canada. One question was why Henry County and why just in the northern half.  Both companies said there is access to transmission lines, the open fields offer few obstructions and the wind speeds are fast enough.

Company reps went thru the process and time line for their projects which, again are very similar. RWE is early in the first stage…..making contact with landowners but feel confident already that there is strong interest.  Supposedly, 50 landowners have already signed on. Liberty Power has not yet started making those connections. Because these are early stages the companies can only estimate the number of turbines, possibly 50 to 60.

The timelines are lengthy. Wind and environmental studies won’t be done until 2023 and construction wouldn’t start until about 2025. Both companies see this as a 35 to 50 year project. Attendees expressed concerns about what happens after 35 years.  They were told there are plans and funds for decommissioning the turbines if they are no longer needed and landowners would not be responsible or left with a useless turbine on their property. The land would also be returned to what it was before the turbine was built. The necessary access road could remain or be eliminated. There were still questions about whether or not contracts would still be honored if the companies change ownership or go out of business. There wasn’t a direct answer for that question.

Answers to other questions…land values are not affected one way or the other, there would be about 300 temporary jobs and then six to 10 long term jobs. About 135 million dollars could be generated in tax revenue. A total of 2.2 million dollars per year could be distributed in payments to landowners. The generated electricity would likely be used in Henry County. Sound and vibrations are minimal and mostly unnoticed.  The blades won’t throw ice because the turbine would be shut down the minute any build up is detected by sensors.  The turbines would also be shut down if necessary when aerial crop dusting is taking place.

The Henry County Supervisors hosted the meeting for information purposes only so everyone could ask questions and receive the same answers at the same time. Many said after the meeting there is a lot to think about and it seemed that most still hadn’t made up there minds about having a wind turbine on their land.