Wind turbines a hot button issue in Gibson County

Wind turbines a hot button issue in Gibson County

GIBSON COUNTY, Ind. (WFIE) - Wind Energy is still a hot button issue in Gibson County. Proposed wind farms have people weighing the pros and cons.

Les Kiesel is a member of Gibcowind, a community organization formed to push for larger setbacks for proposed wind turbines in Gibson County. He says he’s not “anti-wind energy,” he simply wants to make sure it’s done in a responsible way which highlights “property rights and safety," according to Kiesel.

Officials from E.ON stated that their standard set backs would be 1.1 times the height of the proposed turbine for any road, right of way, or adjacent property. That would come out to about 550 feet.

They also say that any wind turbine will be set back 1250 feet away from a home.

These set back were brought up back in March during a special commissioners meeting.

“We asked, ‘How did you come up with the 1250?’ That is just their policy. ‘Well why only 550 from property lines?’ That’s only our policy," said Kiesel. “And when we pushed them further their only response was, 'We have good insurance.”

E.ON representative Karsen Rumpf says that the setbacks they have in place are the company standard that E.ON adopted after studying counties across the Midwest.

“Some counties have 800 foot from a residence, some counties have 1,000 feet from a residence, 1,250 feet from a residence, up to 1,600 feet from a residence," Rumpf said. "It varies, and this is a good standard that E-ON abides by.”

Rumpf says the company’s goal is to work alongside the county by improving roads, creating new jobs, and generating upwards of $58 million in tax revenue over the life of the 30 year project.

“Crop prices are volatile, you never know where they’re going to be and this is good diversification of the land," said Rumpf. "It takes up roughly a half to one acre per turbine in the project area. So it allows them to farm 99 percent of their ground with an additional asset that they can make revenue from.”

Kiesel said that his organization understood the money that a project like this would bring into the county, but without further setbacks, it wouldn’t be worth it.

“We’re not trying to deny the farmers the ability to make the income from the turbines, but there’s the old saying, ‘Your rights end when they affect your neighbor,'" said Kiesel.

Similar projects are going on in Posey County, but according Kiesel, they have a “leg up” because they have zoning laws. Gibson County voted down a zoning ordinance last year.

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