An excerpt of Mr. Freeman's testimony.
Where is the Crystal Ball When You Need One?
When it came to predicting the future there was perhaps none better than Johnny Carson's Tonight Show character Carnak the Magnificent. Carnak could touch his brow with an envelope containing a typed written question and give the answer to the question before opening the envelope. He could look into a crystal ball and predict the outcome of most any event far in the future. Carnak was magnificent - and of course very funny.
I have been a Florida real estate broker for about 28 years. I've been involved in transactions involving over one half million acres and one billion dollars, much of that being conservation land acquisition for the State of Florida. In approximately ten years of serving as a member of our Florida County Planning Commission there have been many times that I longed for Carnak's great powers to understand and predict the future. Oh to have a crystal ball to stare into and see what the future holds. But, alas, we lowly humans have no such powers and so we must just imagine what changes might be wrought by our magnanimous decisions and wait to see the outcome.
Our little rural Florida County has experienced the unbelievable pressure of development spurred on by as many as 1,000 people per day moving into the state. Not a month goes by that the land use and zoning cases number ten or more, often involving hundreds of acres. Cases with land use issues that can profoundly change the landscape forever. Land use matters that can alter the life styles and quality of life for thousands forever. Changes that once put in place are not reversible in our lifetimes. Agriculture as we once knew it - completely abolished. Rural lifestyles impacted so as to not be recognizable.
Yes many times I have wished that I could take Carnak's crystal ball and see the future - see how my decision would affect the people and the land they love. Of course there is no crystal ball, and we are left to only imagine the future and be guided by or own intuition and sense of what is right for the land and the people who live on it.
All too often the future is blurred by promises of prosperity, jobs and new-found revenue sources which seem to always be needed. Energy costs are soaring and we want answers. We all cling to the promise of alternative energy sources, and we get reminded of our own lackadaisical attitude toward finding new ways to feed our energy demands every time we fill up the family truckster.
You know, this little button may give you the wrong idea - because you see my family and I regard Wind Energy generation as an acceptable renewable, alternative energy source - but it is not free - it comes with a very high price tag. And it also comes with a very high profit for the developer. A somewhat unique, complicated, innovative financial plan makes these types of investments very attractive. Remember, Horizon Wind energy didn't come here to give us anything - they came to build a project and take away money - a lot of money - and leave you with the consequences of your actions - and very little money compared to what they will profit. The energy production from this project is not very significant, barely a spit in the bucket, it won't impact our energy crisis enough to even be a blip on a chart somewhere. But because raw energy fetches high prices these days - the dollars leaving Logan County will be startling to those of us dealing with ordinary daily wage sums - and the dollars staying will be a paltry amount when weighed against the real cost of wind energy. Want to know the real numbers - ask Horizon to produce the financial records for the eastern McLean County project. I think you'll find them eye-opening.
You and your fellow board members are faced with making a decision that could alter the face of your County's landscape and the quality of life of your neighbors for decades to come. I understand how hard that decision will be - been there - done that.
The Railsplitter wind project will have that kind of impact. But here is the extraordinary news - you can look into the future. It's almost as simple and easy as looking into Carnak's crystal ball. Just take a drive to eastern McLean County and take a look.
See for yourself what dozens and dozens of wind turbines look like. Talk to the people who live only a few hundred feet from the towers. Go there in the daytime and go there at night when the warning lights are blinking. Then ask yourself if you would live there - for the rest of your life. Would you buy a homestead in the middle of a wind turbine field to raise your family? If you hesitate to say yes then imagine yourself as a homestead owner on Logan County's Union Ridge. Think about having one of the most unique and beautiful view-sheds to be found anywhere permanently impacted by wind turbines. Would you buy a property there? Who would?
After you experience the wind turbines up close - ask yourself if you would be OK with two or three of them in your front yard. And do you think that having wind turbines close to your property will affect the value both now and in the future.
Yes you are truly fortunate because you can take a short trip and actually see the future Horizon has planned for us in northern Logan County. Your decision can actually be based on an almost identical scenario just a few miles away. You can see for yourself and decide - is the impact to the historic Logan County countryside and the quality of life of your neighbors too precious to trade away?