Area residents and landowners voiced their opposition to the Palo Alto Wind Project to the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
"I just want to talk a little bit about the public hearing the other night," Janna Swanson, landowner began. "And I wanted to ask you guys [Supervisors] what your thoughts were about it; what did you think about it?"
"A lot of passion in the room," Supervisor Craig Merrill replied. "People on both sides of the issue were voicing their opinions and we sat and listened."
"Okay, what did you think about Peter Hart setting it up so that every time the opposition got up and spoke, he would have one of their experts come and debunk them?" Swanson questioned. "It was like one of the opposition would stand, then Peter would call one of their experts, rather than just a random thing, he would call one of their experts to debunk whatever they said."
"Well, in my opinion, when somebody asks a question or makes an allegation, I think it's a good time to respond to that," Merrill answered. "So it would seem to make sense if somebody said something, having an Invenergy or MidAmerican person answer that question, seems to be the time to do it."
"Were they able to prove their opinion is top notch?" Swanson asked.
"I would assume that is subjective," Merrill stated.
"I mean, do you believe that they would get up there and lie?" Swanson questioned. "Do you believe that anybody from MidAmerican or Invenergy would get up there and lie at a public meeting and lie to the public? Just tell me."
"No, I don't think they would. Why would they?" Merrill answered back. "What would be in it for them?"
"Well, approving the project," Swanson said.
Swanson went on to remind the Supervisors that she named a group of experts in various fields during the Public Hearing on Oct. 5 and a representative from Invenergy made one of the experts she named look bad because of an ongoing court case.
"What Mike Blazer, Invenergy, didn't tell you about what he said my expert Mike McCann, was that he was the one who leveled all those charges against him," Swanson said. "It would be like me saying Linus is making meth in his basement and the cops going over and investigating and then me running and pointing and saying look their investigating Linus for making meth. Would that be fair?"
"We haven't stopped anyone from coming in and talking," Merrill said. "There was a presentation at the VFW last summer from a gentleman from some college. He was talking freely and he was obviously very anti-windmill project. Nobody stopped him, he did his whole presentation and it was open to the public. We haven't tried to shut anybody down."
"This was at a public hearing," Swanson stated. "Their lawyer got up and lied to you and you are giving a fourth of the county over to these people who will say anything and do anything to be able to come in and you are taking their word for it. You're saying that all the information they are giving you is all good. And this isn't the first time he's done this."
There was further exchange between Swanson and the Board.
"I am here out of love for you too. You are good men. Lois Stillman, landowner and resident, stated. "I do not want anyone hurt on either side."
Stillman went on to describe the blessings that Palo Alto County offers residents and visitors including our land, lake and wetlands. She also said that putting 170 turbines north of the lake was problematic for many reasons including audible and inaudible sound.
Stillman stated the residents of the county want protection and requested that the Supervisors reject the application for the Palo Alto Wind Project as it stands asking them to Do No Harm.
Bertha Mathis, resident, handed out a map asking the Supervisors if any of them had seen it, with all responding no or that they were just seeing it.
"This is in Appendix C in the Sound Study [of Invenergy's Application], so that shows that not one of you looked at the Sound Study," Mathis began. "And that proves that you don't care about any of our residents."
"Where are the commission reports from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?" Mathis questioned. "May I get them and why are they not public record?"
"They were all furnished to us weren't they Peter?" Supervisor Linus Solberg asked.
"No they weren't. Not the commission reports from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife," Mathis said. "They are not in the Appendixes. I'm gonna let you know right now, I've read everyone from A to B. I did my homework. Under Iowa law, there's a report from the archeologist that recommends that they not put two of the windmills where they are putting them. Nobody is following that."
Mathis went on to mention a report from the DNR [Department of Natural Resources], endangered species and migratory paths.
"You need to give this to MidAmerica, Mike Fehr," Solberg said.
"No, I don't," Mathis replied. "You do. You're the Supervisors."
"They'd already been approved to us before we started," Solberg said. "They had to have all that when they started, is that right Peter? Don't you have a list of all them that has to be approved?"
"You have a list but you haven't followed it," Mathis noted.
"We can't do it until they have this done," Solberg said.
The discussion continued with Mathis pointing out the density of the sited turbines to the area residents. Discussions included a migratory route of many birds and more regarding the reports of the DNR and archeologist. Mathis also reminded the Supervisors that 89 percent of the people living within the project area are not participating.
The Supervisors then voted on when they will be making their final decision regarding the permit application submitted by Invenergy. In a unanimous vote, it has been decided that the final vote will be on Tuesday, Oct. 24 during the regularly scheduled meeting.
Palo Alto County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth was on hand to discuss extending the current fuel contract with Ruthven Co-op Oil for and additional year. Unanimous approval was given. Davis-Oeth also gave the Supervisors and update on current road projects noting that N40 mainline is still closed but is open for local traffic only. He also informed the Board that the final draft of the Secondary Roads Agreement for the Palo Alto Wind Project has been received; however, at the time of this meeting Davis-Oeth had not yet gone over the agreement.
The Supervisors also met with Paul Mercer, a tiler from Pocahontas County and Clem Joint, a tiler [retired] regarding county and private tile and the construction of wind turbines.
In other business, Palo Alto County Sanitarian Joe Neary presented the Supervisors with a Watershed Septic Grant Application from Steve Pitt and an approval payment for the Watershed Septic Grant for Ray Grandstaff.
John Torbert, Iowa Drainage District Association met with the Board of Supervisors giving them the annual report regarding legislation at both the federal and state levels.
In final business, Dr. Thomas Getta was unanimously appointed to the Local Health Board.