Article

Turbines to be blowin' in the wind

The idea for expanding corporate farming from wheat to wind should be discarded. The time for railing against the monied interests in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and, now, Florida, for taking advantage of North Dakota, has passed. (Although, there might be other good reasons to rail at them.) It might make good news copy, but it doesn't make good common or business sense. Burleigh County residents should do what they must to regulate wind farms.

The public interest and discussion on possible impact of wind farms on Burleigh County reflects a growing concern about the rural landscape and how we, the people who live here, want to see it used. It's a discussion that has become more sophisticated as wind farms spread across North Dakota. It touches on aesthetics, health, setbacks, noise and other issues. And county planning and zoning commissions, and county commissions, are in the thick of it.

Pushing the conversation along in Burleigh County is Nextera Energy's proposal to build 66 turbines in Croft and Eckland townships. There were recently similar conversations in Morton County, although there are few organized townships west of the Missouri River in North Dakota.

A Burleigh County commissioner brought a different issue to the table. Commissioner Mark Armstrong sang from the populist songbook, concerned that out-of-state corporations pocket too much of the cash in the wind-farming business. Connections were made by Armstrong to the state's anti-corporate farming statutes, implying a like kind of strategy for wind farms.

While modern North Dakota has some strong socialistic antecedents, that... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The public interest and discussion on possible impact of wind farms on Burleigh County reflects a growing concern about the rural landscape and how we, the people who live here, want to see it used. It's a discussion that has become more sophisticated as wind farms spread across North Dakota. It touches on aesthetics, health, setbacks, noise and other issues. And county planning and zoning commissions, and county commissions, are in the thick of it.

Pushing the conversation along in Burleigh County is Nextera Energy's proposal to build 66 turbines in Croft and Eckland townships. There were recently similar conversations in Morton County, although there are few organized townships west of the Missouri River in North Dakota.

A Burleigh County commissioner brought a different issue to the table. Commissioner Mark Armstrong sang from the populist songbook, concerned that out-of-state corporations pocket too much of the cash in the wind-farming business. Connections were made by Armstrong to the state's anti-corporate farming statutes, implying a like kind of strategy for wind farms.

While modern North Dakota has some strong socialistic antecedents, that was before Thomas Friedman discovered the world was flat. A North Dakota that's trying to be a global marketer of agricultural products, and a national marketer of crude oil and electricity, should not pursue a policy of economic isolationism, raising up barriers to investment and competition. A North Dakota that's often frustrated by an uneven playing field, when conducting business within the national economy, should remember the biblical axiom, "Do to others as you want them to onto you."

In other words, the idea for expanding corporate farming from wheat to wind should be discarded. The time for railing against the monied interests in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and, now, Florida, for taking advantage of North Dakota, has passed. (Although, there might be other good reasons to rail at them.) It might make good news copy, but it doesn't make good common or business sense.

Burleigh County residents should do what they must to regulate wind farms. The county ordinance should address setbacks, noise and any health considerations. They are right to consider the visual impact of the wind farms on the landscape. They are right to implement protections if the wind farms operators leave. There's plenty of relevant work that needs doing.

Concerns about the impact of wind farms on the land in North Dakota isn't a worry for Burleigh County property owners alone. It affects all North Dakotans. Armstrong was right saying that the Legislature did not go far enough in addressing the growth of wind farms, but it's good to remember that local control isn't something to be given up lightly.


Source: http://www.bismarcktribune....

DEC 18 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/23696-turbines-to-be-blowin-in-the-wind
back to top