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Stop the wind NIMBYs

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019

* We desperately need statewide rules for wind farm siting, as this Douglas County case clearly shows

Harvest Ridge would create up to 250 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and eight to 10 permanent jobs to operate and maintain the turbines once they’re up and running, according to EDP. […]

Wal-Mart has signed on to buy 233 megawatts of electricity from EDP’s various wind farms, including 50 megawatts specifically from Harvest Ridge. A local cooperative, the Wabash Valley Power Association, has plans to purchase 100 megawatts for 20 years and a second unidentified private purchaser will buy 50 megawatts for an undisclosed number of years.

But a zoning battle that has spilled into court could jeopardize all of that.

EDP recently filed a lawsuit against Murdock Township, which last fall created and enacted its own zoning requirements for wind, separate and more restrictive than the Douglas County ordinance that was intended to be countywide.

In the lawsuit, EDP attorneys argue that the township ordinances are designed “in a manner in which it would be effectively impossible to develop and permit the project.” The company’s complaint states that Murdock Township’s actions are prejudicial to the project, contrary to zoning authority granted to townships by the Illinois General Assembly and an improper attempt to override the county’s wind-farm ordinance.

The governor committed Illinois to the US Climate Alliance just the other day. We’re not going to get there if rural township NIMBYs are setting up arbitrary roadblocks to wind (and solar) power.

The state needs reasonable, uniform siting and operational guidelines. As I’ve mentioned before, the Farm Bureau and the alternative energy folks have been butting heads for years. It’s going to take an involved governor to resolve this disagreement.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 11:59 am:

    Year, let’s let them be put on land owned by the City of Springfield near homes on the lake.

  2. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    That’s unnecessary, Anonymous 11:59. Rich is arguing for rules that apply to everyone, and those rules can be pretty protective of people if we work hard enough.

  3. - ANON - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    living near a wind farm but not too close, I can side with the NIMBY people. Contrary to what the wind farm proponents tell you, there is a direct effect on wildlife in the area. Multiple birds are killed an lying at the foot of the towers. waiting to see what happens when the migratory birds start coming back..

  4. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    I agree, there should be more involvement by the State in siting these industrial scaled projects. And, I respectfully disagree with you Rich that the smaller units of government and rural residents are trying to prevent all such projects with “arbitrary roadblocks to wind (and solar) power”.

    In the county I live in, some of the largest land based turbines are being proposed- nearly 600 ft tall. The FAA, IDNR, USFWS, NWS have all been involved in reviewing documents by the developer (not the ultimate builder, mind you, just the developer). In most cases, those agencies can only offer up suggestions or guidelines. It’s up to the County, and in some cases the townships, to actually approve those and stipulate them in ordinances or permits. In the case of USFWS, these companies can do incidental takes of raptors, including eagles, just by filling out forms and paying small sized fines.

    Then there’s noise, ice throw, property right of neighbors, road use agreements, and many, many other issues that prompt people to label those concerned about proper and safe sitings as NIMBYS.

    Technology is changing rapidly. These wind projects, for instance, only have a life span of 30-40 years. Decommissioning only covers the 25-30 foot deep bases to 4 feet in many areas. What effect might hthis have on aquifers, for instance? We don’t have those answers.

    For the enviro groups that tout these industrial sized complexes, many have been absolutely silent when it comes to protecting wildland areas, migratory bird routes, and sensitive areas from real setback protections, not just 1-3 miles from the boundary of the overall project.

    Yes, we need renewable energy, but we also need storage capacity, energy conservation at residential and business levels, retrofitting of old homes to increase their energy efficiency, and small scale renewable installations. Those I will gladly support and even put IN my backyard.

  5. - Ok - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    “waiting to see what happens when the migratory birds start coming back..”

    Have they been gone for 10 years?

  6. - H-W - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    I am preparing to watch 40 turbines go up, literally out my west-facing, front window (Cardinal Point Wind Farm). The eastern boundary is my street. Should be interesting. Construction starts this spring. I am not opposed, per se. Clean energy should trump fossil fuel. But given that this wind farm in West Central Illinois is owned by a company in Boston, MA, and given that the local rural communities (electric coops) will receive non of the energy generated, I think the corporate model is flawed.

  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:17 pm:

    === Multiple birds are killed an lying at the foot of the towers===

    Ever walk around the Loop in the early morning?

    The number of birds killed by wind power is a tiny fraction of other man-made causes.

  8. - Retired Educator - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:17 pm:

    Every new technological invention faces these problems. People did not like the automobile because it scared their horses. Problems can be worked through, to most peoples satisfaction.

  9. - Old Illini - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    The reason we have any wind or solar farms at all is that we have nuclear and fossil plants running 24/7 to back them up at night, for cloudy days, or when the wind doesn’t blow. Our battery storage technology can’t handle it, and pumped storage hydro has few sites.
    We could emulate Germany and buy power from other states, but that violates the spirit of the US Climate Alliance.

  10. - Ok - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:24 pm:

    Part of the problem is that wind and solar development will always be geographically defined by where we have transmission lines today.

    There are other areas of the state that would love this development, income, and jobs, but because we don’t plan ahead, these projects are all fighting to be in a few spots that have close connections to the grid.

    Let’s stop trying to attach new renewable energy onto the old system that was built to support about 20 large power plants. Find areas of the state that are good for development, where we need jobs and the investment these bring, and create power lines to support that goal.

    We are talking about tens of billions of dollars of private investment, here. That’s more than you will ever get out of a capital bill. We should get it done.

  11. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    Rich- “The number of birds killed by wind power is a tiny fraction of other man-made causes.”

    Songbirds, pigeons, starlings… yes. Even some raptors, I’m sure. But when you are out in a rural area with an Audubon Globally Important Bird Area that could be surrounded by industrial sized wind complexes within the next 2-4 years, that’s just a bit different. And, many bird deaths are not even recorded because other critters get to them and eat them up. So, the counts the wind company does with their hired help, may not even capture the actual deaths and injuries.

    Additionally, raptors such as eagles and hawks, and owls, do not reproduce at the same rate as their avian prey. That one reason is why incidental take permits are required by USFWS.

  12. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:32 pm:

    Ok is right. The PJM and MISO interconnect is the main issue and want by these companies in Central Illinois. We’re exporting the electricity and not really solving energy conservation or renewable issues here at home.

  13. - DuPage - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    @- ANON - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    ===Multiple birds are killed an lying at the foot of the towers.===

    House cats kill hundreds of millions of birds in the U.S. each year.

  14. - plane4 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    Wind and solar are vèry intermittent energy sources that rely soley on fossil and nuclear plants to supplement the grid when wind and solar are not generating, which is about seventy or eighty percent of the time. When they do generate and come online, they present challenges to the grid stability, especially in their region, that must be overcome by load following plants. This will be a challenge even when the storage solution has been finalized.
    Wind is specifically detrimental to Wildlife especially birds and bats. No matter how many claims there are that other man-made objects and cats kill millions of birds which maybe more than wind turbines, the reality is that many of our threatened and endangered species are not killed by the other sources but are killed by wind turbines.
    Another issue is interference with our early-warning radar systems that save lives by issuance of tornado and severe weather warnings. Wind turbine blades and turbulence interfere greatly with the velocity signatures needed for detection of vortices. There was a recent example of this near Maroa in Dec 2018 when the Radford Run wind complex caused a false weakening of the storm.

  15. - Amalia - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    several fears about this technology are to the point that the discussion cannot simply exist on a local level. this is not about the state telling you something must go in. it is about discussion and figuring out how big technology can benefit and problems can be mitigated. we need the wind power. take a look at the very large field in Indiana. it’s bigger than the one along I 55. clean energy needs big discussion.

  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:41 pm:

    ===several fears about this technology are to the point that the discussion cannot simply exist on a local level===

    Exactly. It’s like leaving vaccination rules up to townships.

  17. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    DuPage- House cats don’t kill geese, eagles, hawks, or owls.

  18. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:47 pm:

    In general, there are transmission challenges with wind and solar, of course. I do not see how that is an issue here. This seems like a shovel ready project with sophisticated buyers that can manager their electricity consumption that Murdock Township is trying to hold up for whatever reason.

  19. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:49 pm:

    Amalia- “discussion cannot simply exist on a local level”

    I agree, but the conversation cannot begin if we start by labelling those with sincere and legitimate concerns as NIMBYS. The response by EDP that restrictions would kill the project have been said over and over time and again by these developers all over the State and our Nation. Yet, somehow, projects do go in in areas where there are protections.

    Of course these companies want to build at the lowest cost with the highest rate of return for them and their investors, but not should not be at the expense of others who stand to lose just because their voice are not “worth” enough.

  20. - downstate hack - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:50 pm:

    Without massive federal subsidies and State regulation this wind farm would be financially impossible. Ther eal argument is “Should rate payers sudsidize wind energy or any source?

  21. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:56 pm:

    And, if farm or own farmland and use aerial spraying either by a turbine or nearby one, be prepared for costs to go up… or not being able to even find a company willing to risk their pilots’ lives.

    EDP says- “Across the entire wind farm, about 95 acres of farmland would be pulled out of production, according to Harvest Ridge project manager Amy Kurt, who tells doubters that wind complements the local farming industry and provides another stable cash crop.”

  22. - Arguenda - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:57 pm:

    Tree hugger here. But I also like local produce and the soil around here (that isn’t being populated by mind-numbingly similar suburban housing) is among the best in the world. We gotta eat — there has to be a better way than using ground that needs to be planted. Solar requirements for new housing and rehabs? I don’t have the answer — we need to get away from non-renewable resources, but using productive land isn’t doing it for me.

  23. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    Iowans are no longer receptive to having their lifestyle ruined by Big Energy’s demand that they live with these nasty noisy eyesores. Chicagoans want to live gteen without witnessing the high cost inflicted upon the America they fly-over.

    So, with a solid Democratic rule in Illinois, Big Energy is looking to ruin Downstate.

    Go to Iowa. They’ll tell you how wind farms have destroyed generational friendships, tore town apart and how they’re fed up.

    Then read about Germany’s frustrations. Then check out why The Kennedys oppose them.

  24. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:03 pm:

    Rich, that is a straw man and you crushed it.

    Those are legitimate concerns and you should address it if you’re going to respond to that comment.

  25. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    ==They’ll tell you how wind farms have destroyed generational friendships, tore town apart and how they’re fed up.==

    Come on, man, give me a break. If your friendship can survive a someone putting up a wind turbine, you weren’t good friends to begin with.

  26. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. As farms sold out, they place wind turbines as far as their homes as possible, often ruining their neighbor’s lives.

  27. - BlowHard - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:30 pm:

    Wind “power” is a monument to liberal stupidity.

    It isn’t efficient and never will be. It is a blight on the landscape.

    Yet, people mindlessly continue to erect those ugly albatrosses.

  28. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    If the 225 residents, or 126 households, of Murdock Township were compensated with reduced or even free energy instead of all the energy being produced in their backyards and being sold from Massachusetts this would not be a problem.

  29. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    Wind turbines are very large and blight the landscape, dwarting neighboring farms less than a mile away. The sound they generate can sound like a jet engine, or a tornado. The shadows they cast are moving so many houses suffer from rotating shadows passing overhead every 5 seconds. At night, the strobe lights illuminate their surroundings for miles and ruin sleep.

    The folks living hundreds of miles away do not know that their green choice is ruining communities and landscapes.

  30. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    == You don’t know what you’re talking about. As farms sold out, they place wind turbines as far as their homes as possible, often ruining their neighbor’s lives. ==

    Like I said, you weren’t friends to begin with. Spare me the “when the turbine man came to town…” narrative.

    Plus, you know what would stop that selfish behavior — a uniform state law.

  31. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    ==You don’t know what you’re talking about==

    Said the pot to the kettle.

    Who died and made you the authority on wind power as if only you know the facts. Please. You’ve developed a very bad habit of making declaratory statements as if there’s no discussion to be had. You’ve got the same bad habit when it comes to marijuana.

    Enough with the superiority complex.

  32. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    ===folks living hundreds of miles away===

    And where would you put the turbines? They gotta go somewhere. Extremely low density population areas seem the logical choice.

  33. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    ==liberal stupidity==

    Another partisan genius heard from.

    ==Yet, people mindlessly continue ==

    It can’t be that mindless. They wouldn’t be putting them up if there wasn’t an economic benefit somewhere. They don’t build these things just for the heck of it.

  34. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    Rich- “They gotta go somewhere.”

    Then why not try something a bit more innovative and not as intrusive like this company is doing-

  35. - Old Illini - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    ==House cats kill hundreds of millions of birds in the U.S. each year.==
    A questionable statistic, as most house cats are indoors. However, I did have one take down my parakeet.

  36. - Going nuclear - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    I’m not a big fan of giant wind farms, but there is no question we need to phase out coal and we still haven’t figured out what to do with the high level radioactive waste generated by nuclear power plants. The energy landscape is rapidly evolving, with innovations taking place with battery storage, hydrogen fuel cell, demand side management and micro-grid technologies. In addition to looking at statewide guidelines for siting wind farms, Pritzker would be wise to revive the state’s energy department and start looking more closely at energy technologies that can be deployed on a smaller scale so that we don’t have to rely as much on big, centralized systems that can be challenging to site at the local level.

  37. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:53 pm:

    ===Then why not try something===

    Frankly, I don’t care. And perhaps you can bring this microwhatever to a committee hearing on a state law.

    All I’m saying is the state needs to step in because leaving it all to our kabillion local government entities is a recipe for chaos.

  38. - Old Illini - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    ==They gotta go somewhere.==

    There is quite a bit of room in Lake Michigan. State land, no acoustic or bird problems.

  39. - City Zen - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:01 pm:

    I was promised fusion reactors.

  40. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    ===land owned by the City of Springfield near homes on the lake===

    If you think you can pass a state law that will allow turbines that close to lots of homes, rather than out in the middle of corn fields, then, by all means, give it a try.

    Otherwise, stick to the topic at hand. Those of us who live in a town have to deal with our own issues.

  41. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    No wind = no power
    A wind turbine cannot generate 24/7/365 electrical power. It cannot deliver controlled power. Wind power is so expensive, it had to be mandated as a supplimental source forcing energy companies to use it. It is heavily tax subsidized until 2020. After 2020, there will be a need to justify the costs. Wind is the most expensive energy source, so it needs perpetual subsidies.

    Going with wind power is like forcing FedEx to replace their trucks with golf carts. It doesn’t work.

  42. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    ===It doesn’t work. ===

    After having already announced plans to speed up the retirement of its coal power plants, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company said this week that it will switch to renewable energy to make its electricity instead.

    Why? Because it’s cheaper. A lot cheaper, they said, to the tune of more than $4 billion over a few decades.

  43. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:13 pm:

    ==It doesn’t work.==

    They wouldn’t be building them if that were true.

    But I’m sure they’ll take your “expert” opinion into consideration.

  44. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Illinois setback statute- Turbine must be setback 1.1 times the height of the turbine. 200 feet tall means 220 feet from someone’s house. Seems a little close.

  45. - Johnny Tractor - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    As I understand it, it’s ok to allow local governments to zone where industrial facilities can locate due to issues such as noise and air emissions, but there’s an overriding public concern that would prevent them from doing the same with electricity generators that create noise and have extremely bright flashing lights on them that operate every few seconds, all night, every night?

    I recognize there’s a precedent for this - it’s been a decade or more, but they took zoning and land use authority away from local governments so industrial-scale & scope livestock farms could be built, concerns of the neighbors who have to live with the smell be damned.

    I see this framed in the same consistent arguments - people argue that it’s about jobs, which are short-lived (because the wind farms require very little maintenance after construction) and the folks who build the facilities go home every night to the communities in which they live, which aren’t next to these developments. Wind farms produce tremendous amounts of local tax revenues - if a local government doesn’t want to trade off its vision for how their area gets developed in exchange for those incremental monies, why force it on them? Why do we believe that folks who don’t live anywhere near the affected area are smarter or better qualified to make that decision?

    The post is correct that it is a NIMBY issue - it’s NIMBY for every party to this issue, including the interests who want to override local governments and local residents.

  46. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    A perfect way to solve some problems is to require the company to buy any property within X distance (perhaps a mile) if any neighbor is unhappy with the operations (shadow, noise). Using appraisals from before the construction, this would guarantee that no nearby landowner is trapped on a property worth less than it was before the windmill was made. They can resell it, with no guarantees to the subsequent landowner who bought knowing the windmill was there.

  47. - Joe Bidenopolous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 3:17 pm:

    Surprised nobody has mentioned the very real public health hazard of these things. They interfere with the acoustic returns of dopplar radar, giving meteorologists a bunch of noise and little ability to identify key signatures in supercells, you know, like tornadoes.

    People who live to the immediate northeast of a wind farm in tornado country should be especially concerned.

  48. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    Sure, consistent rules are better for everyone but wind power is a sham. All it does is add to total cost of electrical generation. Why? Because of its intermittent nature. It can’t be used for baseload generation. Just like solar can’t meet that need. So you are forcing users to pay for multiple generation capacity at a much higher rate than if you had dedicated 24/7 generation. hydro isn’t a real option in IL.
    But nuclear is.

  49. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 3:25 pm:

    Joe B- at least 2 of us did address the weather issue already. December 1, 2018 will be a night to remember because of the interference from Radford Run just outside of Maroa, IL.

  50. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 3:42 pm:

    “it (wind power) needs perpetual subsidies”

    So you’re saying wind power is like fossil fuels and nuclear.

  51. - DarkDante - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 4:46 pm:

    From the Indy star story posted by Rich:

    “…the analysis called for adding roughly 1,150 megawatts of solar and storage, 160 megawatts of wind as well as lowering demand through energy efficiency, education and incentives.”

    Seems Indiana is favoritizing wind by a factor of nearly 10-to-1. Wind power isn’t a one-man Green Energy panacea, but it obviously can play a role. Still, point taken by Rich: the State needs to proposed uniform rules about this.

  52. - theCardinal - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 5:16 pm:

    They need to be able to answer what happen when the wind mill / farm has run its course and the asset is diminished also What happens when the wind doesn’t blow ..-SQ

  53. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 5:52 pm:

    Long term, we are going to run out of spaces to put these things, unless we are relegating wind production to the Great Plains. I see generous homestead buyouts on the order of 30-40% above market value, with eminent domain being used as a last resort. Like the pipelines do. It’s a lot easier to buy a relatively few rurals out and give the turbines generous operating space away from humans and other sensitive habitat.

  54. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 6:30 pm:

    They’ve had wind farms in Europe for quite a while. I saw birds there as recently as 2 months ago.

  55. - Oberon - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 7:56 pm:

    I wish I had seen this post earlier in the day: so many of these comments re-cycle tropes that have been around for decades submitted by people who do not understand how electric markets are structured or regulated, or how wind energy technology works, or how the “subsidies” work, or assume these are public utilities. They certainly can provide base-load and do so already, because our weather prediction systems produce high confidence in where an dhow strongly the wind will be blowing a day or more in advance. They will still be built after subsidies end, because they are fixed-cost assets. They do have social and wildlife costs that are not fully-understood. I strongly support wind energy, but also strongly support local control. The private companies who build these things would love state-wide regulations, but guess who would write them? The companies. Look at the federal “voluntary siting guidelines.” They are pretty worthless, but are perfectly acceptable to the companies be cause they look good, are easy to comply with, and mean very little. I have no confidence our legislators are knowledgable or wise enough to effectively legislate this statewide. Above all wind farms are intensely local in their effects; general requirements will compromise too many values. They will come without the State lifting a finger regardless of local obstructions.

  56. - Windy Bernard - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 9:41 pm:

    If you do put them up, make sure you have adequate bonds to clear the land if the windmill fails and the windmill owner ceases to exist. This is a problem in other states.

  57. - Nobody Sent - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 10:04 pm:

    We have the same problem with solar farms - too many NIMBYs opposing stationery quiet solar farms resulting in good projects left on the drawing board.

  58. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Feb 6, 19 @ 6:53 am:

    “Gun Dealer Licensing Act is amended by changing the effective date of the requirement that a licensee who operates the business at a permanent physical location open to the public equip the business with a video surveillance system to monitor the critical areas of the business premises, including, but not limited to, all places where firearms are stored, handled, sold, transferred, or carried, to January 1, 2021. Provides a video surveillance system of the licensee’s business premises may not be installed in a bathroom and may not monitor the bathrooms located in the business premises. Provides the expiration date and renewal period for each gun dealer and dealership license shall be 5 years and the application fee or renewal fee for a license shall not exceed $1,000 for the 5-year period.”

    They changed it to $1500.

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