A standing-room only crowd poured into the Edward Jones 4-H Community Building at the Clinton County Fairgrounds Thursday night to hear another round of discussions regarding the highly controversial topic of wind farms.
The entire speaking portion of the meeting can be viewed in the “On Demand” section at www.wilotv.com. This broadcast was paid for by E.ON.
E.ON, which currently owns and operates 23 wind farms in Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York, put on the discussion with hopes of trying convince homeowners and county officials of bringing their product into Clinton County.
“Our purpose is to come out and to educate and inform the community on the benefits of a wind farm and what a wind farm can do for Clinton County,” said E.ON Development Manager Lael Eason. “We are asking for the moratorium to be lifted so that we can present an application for consideration. The moratorium by no way means that a project moves forward.”
E.ON brought in representatives and consultants to talk about development, technical operations, health, sound, property values, environmental and econometrics. They also touted some of the following economic benefits:
- $30 million-plus in tax revenue for Clinton County over 30 years to support essential services like local first responders, schools and more.
- $25 million paid for labor and construction companies and a commitment to hire and spend locally when possible.
- 200-plus construction jobs.
- $25 million-plus in stable yearly lease payments to Clinton County family farmers, ranchers and landowners over 30 years while using just 1 percent of their land as well as miles of local road upgrades at no cost to taxpayers.
Eason added the project they are wanting to do is for 35 to 52 turbines in the eastern part of the county which includes the townships of Forest, Johnson, Kirklin, Michigan, Owen, Sugar Creek and Warren. If a project were to happen, Eason said it would start in December 2021.
“We have over 290 leases executed and have over 500 supporters,” said Eason.
In one of their handouts, E.ON quoted a new new independent economic study commissioned by Clinton County and conducted by Baker Tilly that says in just a few years, Clinton County will be running a nearly $500,000 deficit and by 2023 will be $1.1 million in the red. The report outlines raising taxes by $3.5 million in just three years as an option to cover the budget shortfall.
Andy Robertson of Forest said the company pretty much said the same thing they’ve been saying for the last 15 years.
“Of course, they’re going to tout the possible money, possible this and possible that,” said Robertson. “We’re probably going to find out that this is the same empty promises offered across the state of Indiana and across the United States.”
Robertson said another thing has to be considered.
“When you look at the bigger picture for the county, I don’t see those benefits,” he said. “If anything, we’ve got a lot of lost opportunity costs particularly due to our geographical situation. We’re surrounded by three of the fastest growing counties in the state of Indiana and two of the fastest growing in the United States.”