Packed Gibson Co. Commissioners meeting offers various opinions on proposed wind energy project

Packed Gibson Co. Commissioners meeting offers various opinions on proposed wind energy project
Updated: Nov. 19, 2019 at 10:57 PM CST
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GIBSON CO., Ind. (WFIE) - The Gibson County Commissioners meeting brought a packed house Tuesday evening. 14 News was the only television station there to hear both sides of a proposed massive wind energy project.

For months, we have heard reasons why many residents are pushing against the possible project including public safety issues. Some are concerned the turbines could impact the National Weather Service radar in Owensville.

[Gibson Co. EMA meets with the NWS to discuss possible impact of wind farm]

[Wind turbines a hot button issue in Gibson County]

Now, a medical doctor is coming forward to weigh in on possible health effects.

A third issue 14 News heard brought up were the impacts on property values for those who live in the area.

"I would never have voted against zoning, and if I get a chance to do it again in Gibson County, I will,” one resident told the Commissioners.

Differing and, at times, obstinate opinions surfaced on the proposed wind energy project which spans both Gibson and Posey Counties.

“I think the farmers deserve the right to do with their property what they feel they need to,” another resident expressed.

Formally E.ON, now RWE Renewables, had representatives on hand for the Gibson County Commissioners meeting.

“Are we looking into all options regarding the super doppler ball, as far as what impacts we’re going to have? Yes,” Wind Development Manager Karsen Rumpf stated. “Options regarding potentially movement of the super doppler ball, potentially curtailment issues, potentially changes of our turbine type, where turbines are going, all those things are being worked on as we speak.”

While some argue the project poses too much of a public safety threat to possibly hundreds of thousands of people, others are worried the turbines could also be a health hazard.

"As a family doctor, I plan to see an increase in seizure activity, insomnia, anxiety, hearing impairment, migraine headaches and possibly even atrial fibrillation of the heart,” Dr. David Utley told the crowd.

Commissioner Steve Bottoms says there are many places within the state that have both zoning and wind turbines. However, Gibson County has no zoning and would need to address that before moving forward.

“Basically, all of this is just talk because we have no authority,” Commissioner Bottoms weighed in.

“I’ve worked on four wind farm projects within the Midwest, two in Illinois and one in Indiana, all those had zoning,” Development Director Lael Eason said. “It’s not that we’re opposed to zoning. We actually support zoning. I think it’s about finding a balance in terms of zoning that protects health, safety, and welfare of the community while trying to balance economic development within the community.”

RWE says during situations like severe weather, the turbines could be shut down in 30 to 45 seconds. However, reps stopped short of saying if they would sign a legally binding agreement forcing them to but said they would run it up the chain of command.

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