Arcosa Voices Support for Alta Farms Wind Project

Clinton, Ill., February 3, 2020 – The proposed Alta Farms II wind project has earned a key endorsement from a local wind tower manufacturer. In a letter to the DeWitt County Zoning Board of Appeals dated January 27, an executive of Arcosa Wind Towers, Inc. cited local job benefits in urging the board to recommend the project.

The Alta Farms II project will not only give DeWitt County an opportunity to participate in the ever-growing enterprise of clean energy production, it will provide immediate direct economic benefits to all of the citizens of DeWitt County,” said Wesley Bourland, senior vice president and general manager of the manufacturer. “Because the developers of the Alta Farms II project have committed to sourcing local components from Arcosa Wind Towers, this project presents a unique opportunity for DeWitt County that should not be missed.”

The Arcosa Wind Towers manufacturing facility in Clinton has supplied wind turbine components for projects in Illinois and across the Midwest. Tradewind Energy, an Enel Green Power company, is developing Alta Farms II and has publicly committed to source at least 20 percent of the wind tower components from the Clinton facility.

We’re thrilled to have the support of one of DeWitt County’s largest employers,” said Tom Swierczewski, senior development director with Tradewind Energy. “The endorsement of Arcosa Wind Towers further emphasizes the wide economic impact Alta Farms II will bring to this community, and we’re excited to see momentum continue to build for the project.

Alta Farms II is projected to create an array of economic benefits to DeWitt County, including over 230 new construction jobs, $13.8 million in new earnings during construction, $22.1 million in total school district net revenue over the life of the project and over $4.6 million in county property tax revenue over the life of the project. These benefits are conditional on timely approval of the project application as proposed, which would enable Alta Farms to begin operating in 2021.

Paying Attention to Both Sides

Yes, I sat through all but one night of testimony in the February ZBA hearings, taking notes and politely listening to both sides. Yes, I have contacted experts in the fields of concern to educate myself. That is how I became familiar with operational curtailment and mitigated lighting systems before their inclusion in the application. Yes, I have spent innumerable hours researching scientific articles and have spoken to those who live and farm in the footprint of a wind farm, and I have consulted with legal counsel regarding the issues presented and have paid for such with my own money.

The decommissioning plan is laid out in the lease forms included in the special use permit application. The information within the SUP application is the DeWitt County Board’s responsibility to question, a part of the job they perform for the county, as I am not responsible for the fiscal responsibilities of the county.

In 2008, per the NBER, America was in a recession, banks recorded billions in losses, gas was $4.12 a gallon, our soldiers had been fighting the war on terror for five years with no end in sight at an estimated cost of $3 trillion, oil fields were destroyed, our allies were being beheaded and burned alive by our enemies, and non-Muslim women were being kidnapped, raped, and enslaved.

Seven years earlier, 9/11 had occurred. This was the situation when I first heard about the proposed wind tower project in DeWitt County. As a strong believer that we needed to be free of any ties to foreign oil, I also believed that any options that were available, which also had the added benefit of clean energy (i.e. hydroelectric, geothermal, solar.)

Kim Spencer, Clinton

Found online here: https://herald-review.com/opinion/letters/letter-paying-attention-to-both-sides/article_af510b10-eb03-5d67-9251-ed8ca1e75085.html

Thanks for your support, Becky!

On Monday, December 2, I attended the DeWitt County ZBA meeting, where they discussed a group of anti-wind farm ordinance amendments. I was appalled by the way the meeting was run.

I am a wind farm supporter, and I signed up on a list to speak to the board. Once public comment began, the list was abandoned, and people wishing to speak were required to just stand up and do so. Or so I thought.

When I stood up to go speak, the ZBA chairman asked me if I was on the list. I said yes I was. The problem is that a few minutes before me, they allowed two anti-wind farm speakers to speak who were not on the list. Later on, a wind farm supporter who attempted to speak for a second time was refused the right to do so on the grounds that nobody can speak twice. Yet, later in the meeting, an anti-wind farm commenter was allowed to speak for a second time.

It seems that this meeting was run to shut out wind farm supporters from giving their opinions. The only question is, why?

Becky Fatheree

Clinton

Found online here: https://theclintonjournal.com/article/why-doesnt-the-zba-really-want-to-hear-from-wind-farm-supporters

Wind Farms Benefit Community, Individuals

I am a landowner who lives in rural McLean County and I host two wind turbines on my land as a part of the Twin Groves Wind Farm. I have been concerned to see opposition to wind projects across Central Illinois, including in DeWitt County, where I own land as well.

These turbines have been nothing but beneficial for the community I live in. As a landowner, whenever there has been a problem, it was resolved quickly and with priority. The only problem I’ve had was with service roads needing maintenance, but they always come to fix it quickly. There have never been problems with farming around the turbines. Nobody I know has gotten sick or had a seizure from the wind farm.

I believe wind farms are a part of the future of our state and region. In McLean County, we have seen improvements to roads and schools thanks to wind farm revenue. DeWitt County can benefit in the same way that we have here in McLean County.

I encourage landowners, communities, and elected officials across our state to look at the economic benefits of wind development, and be forward thinking in making decisions on potential projects.

Floyd Morefield, Bloomington

Found online here: https://www.pantagraph.com/opinion/letters/wind-farms-benefit-community-individuals/article_01952b6f-0a21-5928-ae13-8183f5b229bf.html

Thanks for your support, Brigitte!

I am writing to voice my support for the Alta Farms wind project here in DeWitt county.

I am a resident here and I believe this is a tremendous opportunity we should not pass up!

I have attended many of the board meetings and have heard the arguments against this project. That is just what they are, disagreements. For every fact that says these are horrible devices riddled with danger, you can find the opposite argument based in science.

We could go on and on in this way, so it comes down to opinions really. I would like to plead to everyone’s common sense. It is good sense to offer more jobs here, no matter the timeline. It is good sense to secure income for our schools. It is good sense to be good stewards of the earth. The heart of the Midwest, that beautiful earth.

Adding another resource to harvest here can only strengthen the generations of family farms. It is good sense to what is in the best interest for the greater good, not a small percentage of people who oppose growth and progress. Let’s be sensible and take care of our county.

Brigitte Lamar
Clinton, IL

Found online here: https://dewittdailynews.com/letters/476701

Understanding “Subsidies” & Wind Energy

Did you know that ALL forms of electricity generation are “incentivized” in some way by the federal government?

Our current tax code subsidizes all forms of energy generation technology, conventional and alternative.

The wind energy industry benefits from a Production Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC is designed to provide a tax credit based on the quantity of electricity generated by wind energy technology. Importantly, the tax credit is not granted if a wind project fails to produce energy.

In 2016, legislation was passed to phase out the PTC in the coming years.

The PTC has been successful in helping create jobs. The wind energy industry has created more than 100,000 jobs throughout the United States, including over 8,300 industry jobs right here in Illinois. And, job growth is expected to continue even after the PTC program has been phased out.

Flabbergasted by Arguments Against Wind Project

Found online here: https://theclintonjournal.com/article/flabbergasted-by-arguments-against-wind-project

I went to the Regional Planning Commission meeting last week, which was focused on the windfarm proposed for DeWitt County by Tradewind.  The commission allowed those attending to comment on their feelings about the project.  

I was flabbergasted by the reasons given by those in opposition. Let me cite a few examples.

“I won’t be able to hunt and fish.”  I was unaware that a wind turbine had any effect on the number of fish or their ability to breed or on the number of deer or pheasants.  In counties that already have wind turbines, people continue to fish, and deer continue to be a hazard on the roadways, so I assume the deer population has not diminished in those counties.  

According to a study made by the Pheasants Forever group in Iowa, which gets 36 percent of its electric power from wind turbines, there has been no effect on the pheasant numbers.  More birds are killed colliding with cell towers than wind turbines.  No one wants to give up their cell phones.  Birds are also killed by cars.  No one wants to give those up either.

“I’m worried that my horses won’t breed.”  The biological need for a species to reproduce is very strong.  From Highway 51 that passes by Maroa, a driver can see a large herd of black cattle which pastures under and around the wind towers, as well as their calves in the spring.  When asked about the effects of the towers on his cattle, the farmer will answer that they have no effect.  He then will say with a grin, “but I have noticed the calves’ tails rotating in a circle right after they’re born.”  He treats the question with all the seriousness it deserves.

“The Bible says we should oppose these wind towers.”  This drew a lot of applause from those opposed to the towers.  The Bible does say that God placed the stewardship of the earth in our hands.  Over the past 100 years, we’ve been using primarily coal and oil for fuel and electricity.  The result has been pollution, a depletion of the ozone layer, and climate change.  Harvesting wind power seems to me a good alternative form of energy and a way of being a good steward of God’s earth.  Being in favor of wind power does not mean I’m out of favor with God.

“The towers will be bad for the Mahomet aquifer.”  Putting concrete pads 70 or more feet above the aquifer with multiple intervening layers of soil will not affect the aquifer.  If someone believes this, they should stop putting basements under their houses, stop creating buildings with concrete pads, and stop building parking lots. 

“It will be hard for farmers and crop dusters to work around.”  The farmers I know in Macon, Logan, and McLean counties say they have no problem farming around the wind towers, and the crop dusters they hire say they have no problem working around the towers.  I grew up in southeastern Illinois.  My hometown is an oil boomtown.  On the farm where I grew up and on the farms around me, the farmers had no trouble working around the oil wells that dotted the landscape.  We did have trouble with salt water spills, and fracking has created a multitude of earthquakes, particularly in Oklahoma.  Surely wind power is better than this scenario. 

“My house will have up to 46 hours of shadow flicker a year.”  That means an average of 7 ½ minutes of flicker per day under sunny conditions.  Not every day is sunny, though.  I realize this could be annoying, but I suggest closing the blinds, working in another part of the house, facing the other direction while outside, or taking a break from the barbecue for a few minutes if this bothers the people so much.  Shadow flicker is like driving past a row of trees in the sunshine and having alternating sunshine and shadow on your car.  It can be annoying but is not terminal. 

“Everyone here who spoke in favor of the wind farm is greedy and getting paid.”

Excuse me, my income comes from my teacher’s pension, and I’ve never taken a dime from Tradewind.  The same is true for others who spoke in favor of the windfarm.  Only one person on Tradesind’s payroll spoke.  He was at the very beginning and was up front about it.  

People who will receive money from the wind farm include the farmers who have contracts with the company, the people who build the wind farm, about two dozen permanent employees, and our schools, the county, and our library, in the form of taxes.

“I don’t want to look at them.”  Fair enough.  This is the main reason these people don’t want the wind towers.  They do not say how we offset the loss of tax money and jobs or how we mitigate the effects of fossil fuels on the earth’s climate if we turn down this project.  

What seems greedy to me is expecting everyone to pay more taxes so that the people against the project don’t have to look at the turbines.

Becky Adams

Clinton

Thanks for your support, Kim!

Research info on wind project.

I am a 10-year supporter of the Alta Farms Wind Project who feels that we need the new funding it provides for our schools, our fire departments, our libraries, and our roads, along with the opportunity to create jobs, increase revenue for local restaurants, motels and businesses, secure jobs for those in our community that are laborers, and create new jobs here at home.

More than 7,667 students and 155 teachers annually (and 230,000 students and 4,650 teachers over the length of the project) will be positively affected though continued support of revenue to our schools and libraries. Within our county, 16,434 residents annually (and over 493,000 over the length of the project) will receive the benefits of assistance to their local volunteer fire departments and relief from real-estate tax increases.

As a resident of this community, I encourage you not to let a few dictate our future. If you have questions, research answers from reliable sources. Do rely on other people’s fears for input. Make an educated decision and contact your representative on the county board to let them know that, for the sake of our children, they need to vote for the good of the community.

We cannot allow the emotional responses from a few to limit our future, our children’s or their children’s. We may not get another chance to do so much for our county, especially if we become known as a closed-minded community should another prospective revenue source miraculously arise.

Kim Spencer, Clinton

Found online here: https://www.pantagraph.com/opinion/letters/research-info-on-wind-farm-project/article_53a8383c-94a5-5ccf-a067-dd1a90779767.html

Property Values & Wind Turbines

Have you wondered about how wind farms affect property values for adjacent homes? Here’s the truth: Here in DeWitt County and domestically, a wealth of research has been done on the impact of local wind development on property values.

Here are three examples:

  • MaRous & Company, a real estate appraiser and consulting firm from Park Ridge, Illinois, with 30 years of experience conducting market impact studies, analyzed the impact Alta Farms will have on the value of surrounding residential properties. They concluded the Project will not have a negative impact on rural residential or agricultural property values in the surrounding area. In fact, for agricultural properties that host wind turbines, the additional income from the wind lease may increase the value and marketability of those properties.
  • The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) examined the sale of more than 50,000 homes spanning 27 counties in 9 states. These homes were within 10 miles of 67 different wind facilities, with 1,198 home sales within one mile of a turbine (331 of which were within a half mile). Through statistical analyses, neither the view of the wind facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities were found to have any consistent, measurable, or statistically significant effect on home sales prices.
  • An Economic Impact Analysis conducted on Alta Farms by Dr. David Loomis, Professor of Economics at Illinois State University, concluded, “Wind projects enhance the equalized assessed value of property within the county. Typically, wind developers pay taxes based on that improved value unless preempted by law or mutual agreement. Wind farms strengthen the local tax base helping to improve count services, schools, police and fire departments and infrastructure improvements, such as public roads.”

The clear consensus is that no significant impact exists to property values based on the proximity of homes to wind facilities.

[PROJECT UPDATE] Scheduling of Upcoming Meetings for Alta Farms Wind Project

Last week at the DeWitt County Board meeting, an agenda item the Board was going to discuss was a request by Tradewind Energy for a substitute zoning administrator for the matter of the Alta Farms Wind Project.

The board removed that item from the agenda and county leaders say the issue has been resolved but Tuesday morning on the WHOW Morning Show, Project Development Manager for Tradewind, Tom Swierczewski says they do not believe it is resolved.

“We have not received formal communication. Our complaint, we feel, is still active and hasn’t been resolved. We simply want to get through this process as quickly as possible so we can start building this project and so DeWitt County can start benefiting from all the economic benefits these projects bring as well as the jobs. We see no reason for this process to take any longer than it needs to. It’s looking like it’s going to be at least 4 or 5 months, and that’s ridiculous.” said Tom Swierczewski.

Tradewind’s biggest contention is they submitted their application nearly three months ago and it has yet to make it to the Regional Planning Commission. Swierczewski feels this process has taken far too long.

“It’s been frustrating. Last Monday, Alta Farms II submitted a complaint against the zoning administrator Angie Sarver. It’s our feeling that she is attempting to stall the process or otherwise make sure the application proceeds through the process as slowly as possible. We submitted our application on August 15. The RPC was scheduled very shortly after our complaint was filed for November 19. That’s over 3 months. Typically, a special use permit application is reviewed an acted upon by the County Board in 3 months, not just going through to the first level.” said Tom Swierczewski.

The RPC will take up the Tradewind application in November but Tradewind is maintaining their request for a substitute zoning administrator. Swierczewski called out Land Use Committee Chair Terry Ferguson, for not having control of his staff and playing politics.

We decided at the last minute not attend the County Board meeting because an RPC meeting date had been set, but we’re still asking for a substitute zoning administrator. We’re asking that after November 19 that the Zoning Board of Appeals dates be set so we can get through this process. We simply want to be treated like every other applicant. At this point, from our perspective, if the zoning administrator isn’t the problem at the county, perhaps it’s the Land Use Committee chairman Terry Ferguson. From our perspective, it seems like either Terry’s playing politics or he doesn’t have control of his staff, and neither one of those is good.” said Tom Swierczewski.

Last Friday morning on the WHOW morning show following the County Board meeting, DeWitt County Board Chair David Newberg did not elaborate much on the situation but did indicate they felt they had the issue resolved before the meeting.

“First of all, for the Board to act on any item, it has to be on the agenda, as it was listed for discussion and possible action. If it’s not on the agenda that way, no action can be taken. Obviously, the agenda has to be posted 48 hours minimum prior to the meeting. We had some issues we didn’t think we resolved, I had them placed on the agenda this way. We got those issues resolved, so I wanted to make it very clear at the beginning of the meeting that I was pulling that from the agenda, because we did have a resolution.” said Dave Newberg

Also found online: https://dewittdailynews.com/local-news/471410?fbclid=IwAR042y5jVjiwb1l4cFF898eY6f5cieYOqDErp220x6EPLnqIFNe4X0dzXpg