Editor’s note: the following letter is a copy of a letter sent to the Madison County Supervisors regarding the proposed MidAmerican Energy Arbor Hill Wind Project.

Gentlemen and Lady:

Citizens for Ag Rights and Renewable Energy (CARRE) is concerned that a well-meaning, small, very vocal group (Madison County Coalition for Scenic Preservation) is actively attempting to prevent the development of wind energy in our county. This project is great for the environment and economic development of our county. It supports the State of Iowa Policy of encouraging the development of alternative energy production. It will deliver emission-free renewable energy, and assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that is a local and global benefit.

The purpose of this letter is to answer the concerns of the coalition and to discuss the positive economic benefits to the citizens of Madison County.

HEALTH CONCERNS:  Attached is a copy of Winds Turbines and Health (January 2019) which is a joint statement from the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the Iowa Policy Project and the Iowa Environmental Council (the “Iowa Report”). The Iowa Report, from the State’s leading health scientists, concludes that “There is no authoritative evidence that sound from wind turbines represents a risk to human health among neighboring residents. The only causal link that can be identified is that wind turbines may pose an annoyance to some who live near them.” 

In the Iowa Report conclusion it goes on to state that “annoyance is likely influenced by a person’s feelings about the impacts of wind turbines on view sheds, whether they get an economic benefit from the turbines, whether they have a say in the siting process, and attitudes about wind power generally.” 

We are puzzled as to why the Madison County Board of Health ignored this conclusion from the State’s leading health scientists when passing their Aug. 8 resolution. It doesn’t appear to make any sense! This conclusion by this study should put to rest health concerns. Any perceived health concerns are certainly minute in comparison to the very real health problems caused by the coal fired plants they are replacing.

SCENIC PRESERVATION: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The turbines don’t mar the scenery any more than electric poles, roads, man-made structures, etc.

FLICKERING: MidAmerican performs studies and sites turbines to minimize the impacts of flicker.

GOOD NEIGHBOR CLAUSES: MidAmerican offers a neighbor agreement to neighbors who don’t get facilities on their property. The agreement does not prevent them from speaking against the project.

REMOVAL OF TURBINES IF DISCONTINUED: MidAmerican has an obligation in the easements to remove the facilities to a depth of four feet and restore the property for ag use in event of being discontinued. 

RECYCLING THE TURBINES: The towers themselves are steel so they can be salvaged and reused. The blades are made largely from fiberglass. See www.newtongov.org/DocumentCenter/View/3026/NDC-Newsletter---October-2017. Global Fiberglass Solutions, Inc. is building a plant in Newton to recycle fiberglass. 

BENEFITS OF THE PROJECT TO MADISON COUNTY TAXPAYERS: The project will provide benefits locally, at the State level and globally. It is expected that the Project will create up to approximately $90 million in landowner payments over the 40 year expected life of the Project (with approximately $37 million of such payments relating to property in Madison County if all 52 wind turbine sits are utilized). In addition Madison County is expected to receive up to approximately $51 million in property tax revenues over the 40 year expected life of the Project if all 52 wind turbine sites are utilized. This investment would support economic development in Madison County. The project will result in local expenditures relating to the construction of the project will support more than 200 temporary construction jobs and will result in permanent job positions associated with the operation, service and maintenance of the Project.

We urge the Board of Supervisors to approve this project. We feel it will be very beneficial to the citizens of Madison County.

We thank you for your consideration.

—Daryle L. Johnson, Spokesman

Citizens for Ag Rights and Renewable Energy