J.P. Michaud’s article on wind farms detailed in his opinion ways a wind farm can be profitable and yet socially acceptable.
Farmers should be conscious that wind energy plants are a form of heavy industry. Apart from the turbines, wide access roads are required, many trenches will be dug to accommodate power lines, and eminent domain may be exercised to place power lines across neighboring properties that refuse to sell easements. There will also be substantial damage to the land during the construction phase, largely due to soil compaction and erosion, even if most of it can be returned to agricultural production.
Nevertheless, it is my opinion that wind energy projects could be profitably sited on farms in a socially acceptable way provided a number of criteria are met.
1. The land should be already disturbed by tillage, as recommended by the governor’s energy task force. Undisturbed rangeland and native prairie should not be developed for wind farms because of the large area of ground that suffers disturbance during construction. Natural soil profiles and plant ecology cannot be restored following such disturbance and native plants and animals will be negatively impacted.
2. The land should not be adjacent to residential development. Numerous studies are identifying significant health risks for people living near wind turbines. Large wind turbines are visually intrusive, being visible from 18 miles away, and if they mar the views of adjacent residents who are not receiving income from them, they will become a source of local contention because of concerns about reduced property values and diminished scenic outlook.
3. The process of negotiating with a wind energy developer should be a democratic, open, and public process for the entire community whereby all local citizens have a fair opportunity to voice concerns, ask questions, and provide input to the county planning commission. Otherwise, the development may be resented by local residents who feel their rights are being ignored while others are being permitted to profit at their expense.
4. Finally, a thorough, independent environmental impact assessment should be undertaken by qualified professionals commissioned by the government, not the developer, to produce estimates of potential impacts on surface water runoff, wells, birds, game animals, endangered species, and overall ecological health of the area.
The Hays site was selected very close to the western edge of town, where sunsets would forever flicker through spinning blades, largely because of the interests of particular landowners and the proximity of an existing substation. Unfortunately, the site encompasses secluded residential developments that highly value their rural privacy in close proximity to town. To these more than 100 families, the development represents a forcible industrialization that threatens to destroy their rural quality of life. Read Full Article
– The economic benefit of being paid for land to be taken as part of wind "farms" may well be off balanced by the risks and dangers and long-term negative effects created by windmills.