INDIANAPOLIS — Some Hoosiers say the state needs to regulate how and where companies can build wind turbines.
Lawmakers heard testimony from at least a dozen people for more than three hours Thursday.
Some present argued why wind turbines negatively impact communities, but others said not only are they environmentally friendly, but an economic jump-starter, too.
Thousands of turbines spin hundreds of feet in the air around Indiana. Some think they’re beautiful, while others call them eyesores.
Some say wind energy could become a vital part of the U.S. energy footprint.
The big question: Does Indiana need more regulation on where wind farms can pop up?
Debate surrounds whether the turbines impact property values, as well as whether they benefit their local economies.
“In Benton County, we would not have paramedics today were it not for wind mills,” said Bruce Buchanan, the Benton County Council at-large member.
“We have money coming in for the next 25 years that virtually ensures that we can address the needs of our community.”
But communities have different regulations on the turbines’ distance from other people’s property. The issue was emotional for some Hoosiers who attended Thursday’s discussion.
“As lawmakers, your constituents trust and rely upon you to ensure the constitutional rights of all the people,” said Melissa Elmore, who lives in Henry County.
Some property owners say they want more notice about turbine construction plans.
“A project that really started years prior will be voted on in 10 business days,” said Susan Hun, who also lives in Henry County and said many people don’t know about the proposal until the vote is imminent.
Wind experts say that’s not true — that nearby property owners do receive what they considered ample notice about proposals.
Hoosiers and lawmakers gathered inside the Senate chambers Thursday morning because a bill that failed last session called for more regulation on building wind turbines.
“The bill tried to provide guidance for counties with and without local zoning,” said Rep. John Saunders, a Republican from Lewisville who proposed the bill last year.
“Gave some guidance on disclosure how that disclosure had to take place.”
It is a bill that could come up again in January. The committee will meet again later this month and eventually will make recommendations to the full legislature about any bills to consider.