Planet Backward with the NIMBYs

I watched Planet Forward this evening, and it only made me more pissed at the NIMBYs stalling a local wind farm at every turn.

Planet Forward featured some great conversations on the future of energy in the United States, from generation to electric cars. They discussed the pros and cons of nuclear power, the pitfalls of clean coal and its advantages as a transitionary fuel, and the costs associated with renewable energy. They also featured several homebrew videos submitted by users on the Planet Forward website. Great stuff.

One of those videos included a college student who was against wind power until he made a video tracking a Rhode Island wind farm project. A wind farm project, by the way, started for the sole purpose of economic development, not for environmental purposes.

Out here, the NIMBYs are going to the county zoning board to try to shoot down the project. Quick review: Navitas developed the farm, got final approvals and permits, then sold the project to Iberdrola. Iberdrola says “we want bigger towers” and they’re sent back to square one. The NIMBYs decide the Navitas success was only the first battle lost, so they rearm.

Right now, the law says the setback for wind towers is 750′ from homes. Iberdrola, by policy, says they’ll build towers at a setback three times the height of the towers, or just over 1200′ from homes. The NIMBYs say it’s not good enough and demand 1800′. Not just from homes, either; they want towers 1800′ from homes and roads. This will force Iberdrola to resurvey, probably set up new land agreements, lay more construction and access roads, and lay more copper.

In other words, they NIMBYs are trying to jack the costs of the project so high that it’s not viable. Insult to injury, someone else has submitted a proposal asking Iberdrola to assure the property values of area residents. If property values drop as a result of the wind farm, the power company pays the difference.

I love it. They’ll bitch and complain about the costs of gasoline and they demanded the state government do something when our natural gas and electrical prices went sky high, but when they have an opportunity to do something that could both help the power situation and bring some economic development to the community, they decide it’s more important that they don’t have to see the towers on their skyline. Indiana and Iowa are putting up wind farms all over the place, and existing Illinois wind farms seem to be doing just fine, but since they can’t find anything that shows otherwise, they just quote statements from other naysayers.

This video from Planet Forward sums them up best:

What scares me even more is the consequences of their actions against the wind farm should they succeed. I think it’s going to make other developers in other industries afraid to come around. If these new zoning ordinances and this property values plan go through, it could affect other kinds of construction. Our county could feasibly become a developmental dead zone, and our property taxes will suffer as a result when costs to run the schools and maintain county services increase over time.

Hell, the newspaper made that problem clear already. Above the fold in last week’s paper were two stories about the wind farm and the zoning board. Below the fold? The continuing problem of the cash-strapped county government, and wehether or not they should cut a half hour or an hour out of the courthouse hours every day in an effort to save on payroll to the county clerk and staff. This is a Band-Aid on a severed limb: assessed property values have dropped so the tax base is shrinking, which means the budget will be even tighter going forward.

The water’s about to boil, but we’re fortunate enough to have someone asking us to jump. We best do it before it’s too late.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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