E-ON moves forward with Delaware County, IN wind farm

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, IN - Delaware County will be latest home of renewal energy with a new $200 million wind farm as rules for its operation and tax incentives for its construction are being considered by local government.

E-ON that just built Wildcat 1 wind farm in Madison and Tipton counties has leases for several thousand acres of  farmland north and east of Muncie, and applied for tax abatement from county government. It's been no secret that the company set up shop a couple years ago to monitor wind and start leasing property as the other project was built near Elwood and Tipton

A public hearing by the Metropolitan Plan Commission on proposed setbacks and sound limits for the giant wind turbines revealed more information about the economic development boom as well as opposition from local residents and even Tipton County people who had second thoughts about the noise, safety and operation of turbines.

James Rybarczyk, a Ball State University chemistry professor, was critical of government's handling of the wind rules, and concerned the setbacks, noise limits and other standards did not protect the health and safety of nearby residents.

 The county proposes a 1,000-feet setback from a home and 2,000 feet from a town, city or subdivision. In Tipton County, the setback is 1,500 feet and Whitley County changed its setback to a half mile. The standard in the United States and Canada is anywhere from a half a mile to two miles.

 Nancy Carney, a Tipton County resident, offered the plan commission documentation on standards, hazards and operations for wind farms, suggesting the county do some more homework.

Carney also encouraged officials to adopt World Health Organization recommendations for safe noise with children, with night time sound at 30 decibels and a minimum setback of 5,280 feet. The county proposes 53 decibels at 1,000 feet.

 H.C. Cross told commissioner members people did not want the renewal energy turbines and also accused government of making deals and not informing the public.

Larry Bledsoe, president of the Delaware County Commissioners, denied any backdoor politics and said there had been open discussion about wind farm rules. Fellow commissioner Sherry Riggin said she supported the wind farm development, saying it would create jobs and bring economy to the community. James King, the third commissioner, said he was still studying the wind farm rules besides besides E-ON's plan.

 The commission took no action although Delaware County Council could act on tax incentives for the wind farm this month. E-ON is still waiting on rules before an official announcement comes on site and size of the project.

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