FREEBORN COUNTY, Minn.- A proposed wind farm in Freeborn County has residents voicing their opinions. The Freeborn County Wind Energy Project would bring 100 wind turbines to southern Minnesota and north Iowa.
It will be built on a 40,000 acre site just a little more than a mile east of Glenville.
“Quite often in Freeborn County we hear that we don't get economic development throughout the area and to me this is quite a bit of what this is,” said Glen Mathiason, Freeborn County Commissioner. “I don't think we can pass that up"
However, those who live in the area where the project would be built have some concerns. Residents who don't want a windmill near their homes could still have one built within 1,500 feet of the edge of their property.
“This place is agricultural environment,” said Dorenne Hansen, Concerned Resident. “Every single one of the 100 purposed turbines is an industry upon itself. It's a $300 million project. I can't build a house on a second-five acres on my land, but a turbine can go up 1500 feet from my house. That's wrong."
Invenergy, the company in charge of this project, says less than 1% of those living in the construction area will be bothered by the noise or have light from the turbines come into their homes. Hansen says it's different when you help make up that one percent.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago and it was advanced stage at that point, 3B and 5 years ago I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer,” said Hansen. “So when Invenergy talks about most of the time the noise will be controlled and most of the time the lights won’t hit your house and It'll be one or two%. Well I know what it's like and it's huge when you are the 1 or two%."
Some residents do have potential health concerns as well.
“We’re at the stages of finishing up our Minnesota site permit application,” said Dan Litchfield, Senior Manager and Project Development, Invenergy. “It's a really in depth review process. The issue concerning health concerns, well, they’ve been looked at very thoroughly in Minnesota as well as other jurisdictions in Canada, Maine, and Oregon. There are no known health effects from wind turbines."
Mathiason also sits on the Rural Minnesota Energy Board that has 18 counties with wind farms.
“They’ve got a lot more in western Minnesota and have had for years so I guess I'm not saying it's not possible, but I don't hear a lot of complaints,” said Mathiason.
“We’re here to work with anyone who has questions or concerns so we can find a way that we can do this the best way,” said Litchfield. “Let's find a way to tap into this infinite resource to generate power, jobs and tax revenue and farm revenue."
If the project is approved Invenergy will build wind turbines in London, Shell Rock, Hayward and Oakland townships. Up to half of the wind turbines will be in rural Freeborn County and the others will be built in north Iowa.