Skip to main content

A proposal is currently before the Sangamon County Board that would end a project to create local green jobs and clean energy. I decided to check out rumors I've been hearing that the county board may kill a wind farm proposed west of Springfield and there's definitely reason for concern.

The county has a "moratorium" on wind farms while it considers zoning rules. The current rules require turbines to be 1,000 feet from any structure and 1,200ft from a neighboring property line. That's already the most restrictive setback requirement in Illinois. The next largest setback rule is 750ft in Peoria county.

I'm told that some Illinois wind power producers dislike the Sangamon county ordinance because it could set a new standard that's too restrictive. Despite that, the company proposing a new local wind farm, Sangamon Wind, still agreed to the rule.

Now, there's a proposed change that would be even more restrictive. The "perimeter setback" to the property line of the project would be increased for turbines over 400ft, like the ones proposed by Sangamon Wind. This would protect pieces of ground on neighboring property from being near a wind turbine even if there are no houses or other structures nearby. It would essentially give landowners veto power over their neighbors who do want to participate in the project.

As if that weren't enough, two county board members offered separate floor amendments at their last meeting extending the setbacks even further to 1,850ft or 2,640ft. Thankfully, the proposals were postponed but the issue will come back at a future meeting.

I spoke with a representative of Sangamon Wind who told me that the new guidelines would effectively ban wind farms in Sangamon county.

Farmers and other landowners across Illinois sound generally happy with the extra revenue they're getting from hosting wind turbines on their property. The wind industry supported 5,000-10,000 Illinois jobs in 2010. Could Sangamon become the one county backward enough to turn down good jobs during a recession?

gobknobwind

There was some opposition at previous public hearings on the ordinance. Residents near the project had reasonable questions. A few others brought up a long list of far-fetched objections and internet conspiracy theories about wind power generation.

Ultimately, there are some people who just don't want any change to their scenic views of corn and soy fields, even though wind farms preserve the rural nature of the area. It would be ironic if opponents stopped the wind farm only to see the area later developed with a subdivision or mega hog farm.

There's also a great deal of support, including land owners who already agreed to have wind turbines on their property. Added tax revenue will benefit the rural New Berlin school district, which is below the state average on per-pupil spending.

Wind power is facing an unusual level of scrutiny. In contrast, the county board didn't hesitate to approve a dirty energy project in the recent past. An expansion of the Viper Coal mine near Williamsville was not only approved, but given $900,000 in local tax breaks over ten years. They also received $4.7 million in grants from the Illinois Coal Development Fund, and that's hardly the first time the out-of-state owners have been given large coal subsidies.

To my knowledge, Sangamon Wind isn't asking for the same special county tax subsidies or state grants given to Viper mine. Tax revenue from the project will benefit local schools and government.

Sangamon county needs more jobs and the nation needs more clean energy. It's puzzling that the county board is having such a difficult time doing something that should be a no-brainer.

Originally posted to Willinois on Thu Aug 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site