Area residents raise concerns over Morgan County’s wind energy ordinance

By Blake Schnitker on July 9 at 1:19pm

Several area residents addressed the Morgan County Board of Commissioners regarding the county’s Wind Energy Conservation System ordinance at this morning’s bi-monthly meeting.

Mike and Charlotte Woodyard, as well as Vicky Kindred were in attendance for today’s Morgan County Commissioners meeting to highlight their concerns about the potential implementation of wind turbines either near or potentially on their property. Specifically, the residents wanted to address concerns they found in Morgan County’s ordinance when it comes to its Wind Energy Conservation System, or WECS.

Mike Woodyard spoke to the Board for close to thirty minutes, touching on a number of issues he had regarding the county’s ordinance. Woodyard’s concerns deal specifically with two companies, E.ON Energy Services and Apex Clean Energy, who are looking to potentially construct wind farms in Morgan County. He breaks down some of the main issues he has with the ordinance.

“It’s not going to affect their ability, because you’re going to have me personally, who it effects my property. I’m willing to give them an easement, but the way the ordinance is written, they don’t have to come to me for an easement. But I’m going to live with the noise, I’m going to live with the shadow flicker, I’m going to live with the possible electro-magnetic interference, which are things that the wind company will tell you is all made up. Well, all the things that they say are in our minds of the people that live underneath the footprint of a wind tower, the landowner gives them an easement for the same things they say aren’t an issue,” says Woodyard.

Morgan County Board Chairman Brad Zeller, along with the county’s Regional Planner Dusty Douglas, answered Woodyard’s questions and addressed his concerns as much as was possible at this particular time. In terms of how the county intends to move forward with these issues, Zeller explains that several changes to the wind ordinance have been proposed.

“The County Board, through Mr. Douglas, our Regional Planner, he has emailed us some proposed changes in our wind ordinance. And several of these proposed changes will address the community’s concerns regarding the fees, regarding the ag-mitigation legislation that was passed through the state of Illinois that would take into account de-commissioning and things like that,” says Zeller.

Zeller says that, in the near future, Douglas will meet with the Planning Committee to try and address any of the potential setbacks when it comes to issues with the wind ordinance.

“As far the setbacks, we are looking at that. Mr. Douglas will get his committee together. We cannot make any promises on any of these issues – what we’re going to do or how we’re going to approach it – but we are taking all of these issues very seriously. And we do want to update our ordinance to make it more current, and we also want to make it an ordinance that would be respected not only by our citizens of Morgan County but also the potential wind energy groups that come into our area,” Zeller explains.

The Morgan County Board of Commissioners is next scheduled to meet in two weeks, on July 23rd, where they hope to provide a more clear answer as to which path the county will take with this issue moving forward. As Zeller points out, no promises can be made at this time, however the Board is taking these concerns very seriously.