Articles from Indiana
Windmills might be making a comeback in Hancock County as a handful of residents show interest in alternative forms of energy. County officials say at least three people have expressed interest in recent months in putting wind turbines on their property. However, officials also are weighing evidence about the drawbacks of wind power -- including possible ill health effects.
Over the last several months, extensive arrays of thousands of windmills have been placed throughout the landscape of northwestern Indiana. Once located quite a far distance away from the roads , these windmill fields are now prominently visible along several highways just north of Lafayette. Along with the intense search for alternative sources for fuel currently being undertaken by several companies in the state, Indiana is beginning to do its part ...Unfortunately, the rush to place windmills throughout the corn fields along Indiana highways is not as innocent as it might first appear.
The Plan Commission voted Wednesday to send two new windmill ordinances to the County Commissioners for a vote Oct. 6. The need for the ordinances came about because Tradewinds, an Italian-backed power company, approached the county last winter about erecting up to 150 windmill towers on about 30,000 acres between Kouts and LaCrosse.
More than 150 people came to a public forum Tuesday night at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds to learn more about wind energy. Two companies, EnXco and Gestamp Wind North America, are interested in placing wind farms in Boone County.
A Warrick County judge will rule again on a man's request to build a wind turbine on his property. On Wednesday, Warrick County Superior Judge Keith Meier heard oral arguments. He sent the case back to the zoning appeals board for a vote in his first ruling.
A group of Boone County property owners believe the answer to the country's energy and other woes is blowing in the wind -- but opponents of a proposed wind farm in the western part of the county remain unconvinced. More than 75 people attended a meeting Tuesday to discuss contracts offered to area landowners by Gestamp Wind North America. ...The company is offering landowners $14,000 per 400-foot turbine annually, a figure several people at the meeting said was above average for the area.
Wind energy seems like a win-win for the area, providing energy with low impact on the environment. But what happens to wildlife when wind turbines go up? Wind turbines produce enough clean energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes across the state. But Purdue University Associate Professor John Dunning said they could also pose a threat to animals that share the airspace.
Energy generating wind turbines put up in St. Joseph County will soon have to conform to a new set of rules, aimed at keeping homeowners and their neighbors safe. The St. Joseph County Council passed the new regulations unanimously Tuesday. County leaders said they want the push toward "green" energy to continue, but not unchecked. ...But others say the regulations don't go far enough. They worry the windmills will still be too noisy, too visible, and could lower property values."
Among the first Indiana residents to experience life near industrial wind turbines, Buchanan has yet to arrive at a final judgment of his 260-foot-tall neighbors, which went operational in March. "They growl at you," he says. "The quiet of the rural area I have enjoyed most of my life, I probably will not be able to experience that again." ...Financially, "it's enormous," says Buchanan, who farms several thousand acres with family. "If you offer me the opportunity to have four towers that generate $30,000 to $40,000, that's a lot of corn and soybeans."
The 200- to 300-foot-long blades on industrial windmills look almost whimsical from afar. They appear to turn slowly. People sometimes stop to take pictures. "They look cool," said Eric Burch, director of policy and outreach for the Indiana Office of Energy Development. The tips of those giant blades, however, move at speeds approaching 160 mph, creating forces that send low-frequency vibrations through the ground. People three-quarters of a mile away sometimes say they can feel the vibrations in their chests.
Proponents of alternative energy stress the production of alternative sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels. Others recognize the importance of coal to Indiana and prefer to explore development of clean coal technology. In any case, one trend is apparent: Despite widespread acknowledgment of a need to alter habits to protect the environment, many youths are apathetic about changing the status quo.
One thing could slow down or halt the development of wind farms in Indiana, and it's not community opposition, government regulation, shortage of wind or lack of interest by developers. Getting the electricity generated by the wind to actual customers is shaping up as the biggest obstacle, experts said at the second annual WIndiana conference this week.
About 40 persons have organized the Southern Boone Wind Group to negotiate with wind farm developers. Those persons, mostly living in Jackson, southern Jefferson and Harrison townships, own about 4,000 acres, said Kent Frandsen, the group's attorney. ...Before Boone County's wind resource can be harvested, though, the county must eliminate a ban on wind mills and write an ordinance regulating the potentially lucrative turbine farms.
Does anyone else hear an echo of the ethanol boom from three summers ago? ...All of this makes the effort to erect two giant wind farms in Boone County, the state's second-windiest locale, worth watching. Putting in the 300-foot turbines is one thing in sparsely populated Benton County, but as Boone County's executive director of the area plan commission, Steve Niblick, said: "We are different than other counties with wind farms."
Two European energy companies are locking up land leases for wind farms in Boone County that would bring industrial-size wind turbines into the Indianapolis metro area. One problem: Boone County's zoning laws prohibit wind turbines, so the proposals could ignite the most intense debate yet in Indiana over how to deal with the surging number of wind farms, which up until now have been relegated to rural counties in the northwestern part of the state.
Understanding the basics of contract and property law are critical for Boone County landowners who are asked to lease their property for a wind farm, Indiana Farm Bureau representatives say. Jason Schneider, an IFB attorney, and Kelly L. Kepner, of the Purdue Extension Benton County office, gave a crash course in wind farm development concerns.
Despite having the money allocated in its budget, Logansport Municipal Utilities will hold back on a $43,000 wind energy feasibility study in an area south of the city. At last week's Utility Service Board meeting, board vice president Todd Miller asked for a cost-benefit analysis before LMU moved ahead with the project. Miller said he had to be sure that it was money worth spending given the estimated $3 million cost of erecting a single wind turbine.
These hills will soon be covered with these grotesque towers; ruining the landscape that created a vision of what life was like on the prairie many years ago. Along these Benton County highways there were only telephone poles, barns, homes, and an occasional wooded area; thus allowing an unobstructed view of the horizon in all directions.
The Howard County Plan Commission referred the ordinance back to the Ordinance Study Committee on Tuesday and is expected to consider it again in May. Glen Boise, executive director of the Kokomo/Howard County Plan Commission, said there was considerable discussion about the language in the ordinance on a large wind system.
Get it in writing. That contractual advice and other tips for those wanting to profit from wind energy were offered Wednesday in Warsaw. Nearly 150 people gathered in the Shrine Building at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds to learn about how commercial wind power can work for them. Turnout matched interest in the topic. Organizers had hoped for 80 to 90 attendees. People came from 16 counties, including Wayne County, Mich.