A wind farm project an energy firm is considering could mean as many as 150 wind turbines coming to northern Cass County.
Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, headquartered in Kings Langley, England, is pursuing the project, which would also bring wind turbines to Fulton and Miami counties.
Brad Lila, development director for RES, said in an email that the company is looking at Adams, Bethlehem, Boone and Harrison townships in northern Cass County for the turbines.
"While a project like this could take a while to build there could be as many as 150 turbines," Lila wrote. The project is in early stage development and we do not know how many would fall into each township. It really depends on landowner participation; however, we have had excellent participation and anticipate that it will continue."
The company has not yet chosen a turbine yet, Lila continued, but added the ones that would be coming to the area would be about 600 feet tall.
"With taller turbines comes more efficient turbines" Lila said in his email. "The turbine efficiencies will mean that we can use half the amount of turbines to reach the same amount of production as projects completed only a few years ago."
Lila also confirmed in an email that those who own land near land the turbines will be on will be compensated as well, as long as they sign up to do so.
Arin Shaver, executive director of the Cass County Planning Department, said the turbines would have to be a distance of 1.1 times their height from property lines, 1,000 feet from residential dwellings and 1,500 feet from incorporated limits. Noise cannot exceed 60 decibels at the nearest residence, Shaver continued, adding local rules also call for shadow flicker to be mitigated if it becomes a problem.
Bethlehem Township Trustee Margaret Hubenthal said she does not support the proposed wind turbine project. Chief among her concerns is the fact that the company behind the proposal is based outside the U.S.
"I'm not for them at all," Hubenthal said of the proposed turbines.
Cass County Commissioner Ralph Anderson hails from the county's District 1, which makes up the northern part of the county.
"I think wind energy is part of the total energy package," Anderson said. "I don't think wind energy is an answer to our energy problems, I think it's part of an answer to our problems."
He admitted he wouldn't like to live near a wind turbine, but that he doesn't oppose the proposed project.
"I wouldn't like to see it," he said, "but I would not fight it."
The project would improve the county's tax base and provide other benefits, Anderson continued.
"...[T]hose towers are generating a product and that product is going to be beneficial to the entire electric grid," he said.
Anderson also said though he's certain some will experience property value decreases because of the project, they'll be "few and far between."
While he supports the proposed project, Anderson said its' still important to remain vigilant toward it.
"Do we need to watch what's done? Absolutely," he said.