If you are like most people in the area, you are just beginning to hear the noise surrounding the wind farms proposed to come into Seneca County. You have heard that the schools will get money from them and you are all for helping the schools, and you hear some of your trusted leaders supporting them, so you figure, “Sure, why not do windmills?”
Well, let’s first analyze the money part of it, because that is the big reason being put before us to build them, the money for schools, local government, libraries, local fire departments, mental health, etc. The story being told is the 400 megawatt total output of the projects will bring in $9,000 per megawatt X 400mw X 30 years = $108 million. WOW, you say! Let’s go for it! While it is very difficult to picture how big a 600-foot-tall turbine really is, it seems obvious $108 million is a TON of money, right? But that number is the “magnified” amount. To see it in true perspective, take one year’s worth of it, $3.6 million, divide by the population of Seneca County and you get the whopping amount of $65. Yes, $65 per person per year.
OK so that’s not much, but it should help out a little, any extra money is good, right? And besides, you say, there is talk of a lot of jobs coming in, too, those are good for our economy. Well, the estimates are about 750 jobs during the year or so construction phase and 20 maximum permanent jobs after that. The recent pipeline that was built across the county went through our farm and every person we talked to on the crews had Texas accents and were from out of state. So chances are very few of those 750 jobs will be filled by county residents.
But we still have the $65 right, that’s something! Now the question becomes how much of a quality of life burden are we going to put on 29 percent of our rural population (the number who live inside or within two miles of the wind farms and will be affected) for $65. Those 29 percent have no say in the matter. Their local zoning is superseded by state authority. They are being threatened with the possibility of something which can best (and accurately) be described as living 425 feet from St. Joseph’s Church while the steeple spins around like a giant fan blade. Maybe a fun thing to look at in an amusement park, but not beside your house. And there will be 120 of these things, so there will be many, many homes with serious quality-of-life issues.
Remember now, although a few people signed up for it, the vast majority of that 29 percent who will be affected have absolutely no say in the matter. They are being forced to accept the situation. Do you want to be part of the group who is forcing this burden onto fellow residents? Is $65 enough for you to go along with the scheme?
Our state representative and local leaders (nice people all) have somehow fallen into the trap of supporting this scheme of force. I personally don’t believe they yet realize they are on the wrong side of history with this. State Rep. Bill Reineke is actively trying to push a bill through the legislature that would make the projects happen. Our county commissioners (nice people all) are saying it is out of their hands and there is nothing they can do about it. By taking these positions, the leaders are in effect supporting the use of force against 29 percent of our rural population for the benefit of $65 for each of us. Let that sink in.
So, what can be done? First, Reineke can withdraw his support from the bill he is pushing and instead support another bill that is being circulated in the Legislature that would put these projects under local zoning authority and not decrease setbacks. That would give at least some control back to the people who must live with these monster machines, thereby diminishing the use of force. The county commissioners also could stand up and support that bill, as are the Van Wert County commissioners after their wind project experiences and show their rejection of the idea of using force. Our commissioners, by not supporting such local control, are effectively supporting the use of force against our citizens … whether they realize it or not … and I am sure they do not.
It is time for all of our leaders to reject the heavy-handed tactics of the state and put their voices in opposition of it. Unless, of course, the majority is fine with dumping on their neighbors for $65. I was born in this county and have lived here for more than 60 years now. I know for certain the people here would not do that if they were aware of what is happening. Now, you are aware!
So when you hear the anti-wind crowd voicing a multitude of facts against wind turbines, remember they are in a fight for their very quality of life and are using every argument they can muster to defend themselves. Think how panicked you would be in their situation with the weight of the entire government pitted against you. Is it worth putting our neighbors in this position for $65? We should not do it for all the money in the world, much less $65. Shame on all of us if we do.