Responsible Harvest of Clinton County Gives Wind Update

As we begin another year, Responsible Harvest of Clinton County, Inc. would like to update everyone on the status of industrial wind in Clinton County and across the State of Indiana. We have heard from many people who believe that the issue is dead in Clinton County, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Since 2004, Clinton County has been targeted by industrial wind companies at the prompting of a small group of landowners and local politicians, many of whom are now deceased, retired, or in the process of retiring. Since then, numerous industrial wind companies, including Navitas, AES, and Tradewind Energy, have come and gone without success.

In 2012, Clinton County developed its current Comprehensive Plan; the previous Comprehensive Plan was developed in 1993. The plan, which was put together by many of the same persons who supported wind development and/or who had signed leases with the wind companies, focuses heavily on promoting wind development across ALL of Clinton County.

In 2014, E.ON Climate and Renewables North America (E.On), a subsidiary of an international, privately-owned company based in Germany, began to approach Clinton County landowners at the request of the same small group of farmers who had been pushing wind development previously. E.On came to Clinton County only after Howard and Tipton Counties had terminated further wind development projects with the company. The first four families to sign leases with E.ON in Clinton County were Tipton County residents who owned land in Clinton County. Since then, several hundred leases have been signed, but many of the leases are from the same persons or families, as they have signed up multiple tracts of land. Furthermore, many of these leaseholders do not reside in Clinton County.

In May of 2018, E.On took over all of the leases previously signed by landowners with Tradewind Energy. Since then, E.On has pressured our county council and commissioners to move forward with a project, while still pushing landowners to sign up. While nothing significant has taken place, E.On has continued to pursue agreements with landowners, with the most recent leases being recorded in November of 2018.

It is no secret that industrial wind projects exist almost entirely because of government subsidies. The main subsidy is the Production Tax Credit (PTC) which is a federal incentive for wind energy production that is paid for by the American taxpayer. The PTC is paid out based on production rather than demand, meaning those who produce renewable energy can receive the credit regardless of whether or not that electricity is actually needed, which is often the case, as wind speeds tend to be greatest when demand is lowest. The PTC cost taxpayers $4.2 billion in 2017 and will cost at least an additional $48 billion before it fully phases out, as currently scheduled, in December 2029.–renewable-energy. E.On currently ranks as the 53rd largest recipient of subsidies in the US, receiving $789,787,157 in your tax dollars!

While it doesn’t appear that E.On is going away, there is good news. The PTC is set to phase out at the end of 2019, if not sooner. President Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently stated, “As a matter of our policy, we want to end all of those subsidies…whether it’s for renewables and so forth.” Furthermore, 2018 saw numerous communities across Indiana succeed in their battle against industrial wind companies. Pulaski, Cass, Miami, and Kosciusko County all have enacted moratoria and/or ordinances to keep their communities safe, while other communities have elected new local representatives to protect their interests from these predatory companies.

Responsible Harvest, like our many counterpart organizations across the state, is not against farmers; it is not against the environment; and it is not against individual property rights. Responsible Harvest merely seeks to protect all the citizens of Clinton County from the negative consequences associated with industrial wind energy. Responsible Harvest understands that farming can be challenging financially, and Responsible Harvest supports our local farmers and neighbors in their quest to produce additional income in alternative ways that do not permanently destroy our community, such as solar energy.

We would like to thank our commissioners, Scott Shoemaker, Joshua Uitts and Steve Woods for another year free from damaged roadways, infrasound, shadow flicker, substantially-lowered property values, and unnecessary contention between neighbors. We hope that Representative Heath VanNatter and Senator Brian Buchanan will advocate for some fundamental and logical protections at the state level, such as setbacks from the property line, effective conflict of interest laws, and/or the ability to put the issue of industrial wind on the local ballot via a public question/referendum.

Representative Thomas Saunders has authored a bill for the 3rd year in a row, HB 1027, aimed to protect Hoosiers from the adverse consequences of industrial wind development. Specifically, the bill address conflicts of interest problems, requiring public officials and wind farm developers to disclose any financial interests and criminalizing the behavior if the public official fails to do so. HB 1027 was assigned to the Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee; please reach out to those members below to express your support for the bill.