Moratorium on Wind Energy Discussed
With the filing of Invenergy’s Site Plan given to the county on September 1, the subject of a moratorium resolution was once again a topic of discussion during the regular meeting on Tuesday, September 5. Each Supervisor had the opportunity to comment on the issue before a vote was taken.
“We have an ordinance in place that no other wind energy company can come in under the radar or any other way,” Supervisor Chairman Keith Wirtz began. “They have to notify local, state and federal entities and we would have 60 days that we could put on a moratorium if we wanted too. There’s plenty of time to do that if the people want it. Am I explaining that right Peter [Hart]?”
“Before they [a wind energy company] can have their public meeting, they must contact all of the local, state and federal entities listed in the ordinance,” Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart explained. “Those entities were built into the ordinance for this reason.”
“I’m not in favor of putting a moratorium on. I don’t see any reason for it,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger stated. “We’ve got our ordinance in place. We’ve got it covered so if we would have any problems, we can put a moratorium on then. Right now I don’t see any reason to.”
“I’ve been on record before and I’ve stated I’m not against wind energy. I’m not against economic development, but based on the input of my constituents and the possibility of another wind farm in my district, I’m going to introduce a motion to put on a three month moratorium just because of all the confusion and controversy and unknown of this current project,” Supervisor Roger Faulstick explained. “In my mind trying to avoid trying to deal with two of these [wind developers] at once… so that’s where I stand.”
“I believe it was our job to put an ordinance in place. I believe we did our best trying to do that,” Supervisor Craig Merrill clarified. “After that I think it’s between the landowner and the wind energy people if they want to sign up or not. I don’t think it is our job after that to sway people to go one way or the other. I don’t see anything at this time that warrants a moratorium.”
“I agree with Roger. I think we ought to have a moratorium to find out what we missed in this,” Supervisor Linus Solberg began. “We think we know everything and they promise we have everything covered, but, I don’t think it hurts a thing to put a moratorium on this until we find out how we get along with this one and what surprises we have. I guess I want to apologize to some people in here that we found out each township could have voted on if they wanted one in their township or not and after we wrote out an ordinance, we found this out from the state and we had talked about this before and it was pooh poohed but that would have been local control. That’s what they have in Minnesota local control. Each township can vote on hog buildings or windmills or whatever. Actually, windmills I think they can’t vote the state came in and wrote something up, so when you get ready to make your motion, I’ll second it.”
“Is that true Peter? Their vote could have been taken,” Dean Gunderson, landowner asked.
“There is a county wide ordinance that precludes anything,” Hart said. “With hog confinement being considered agriculture, no one has a say but the state. In wind turbines, without the ordinance, there is a possibility that there could have been a decision made in each township; but, with the ordinance in place, that’s precluded.”
“Boy, that’s sad to hear because that was brought up several times in this room,” Gunderson replied. “That’s sad to hear now. You guys could have known how everyone felt, a decision could have been made and you could have gone on from there. We wouldn’t be sitting hear going back and forth all the time; you would have had a vote of the people.”
“But Dean, haven’t they voted by signing up?” Merrill questioned.
“Not the people who live here, Craig,” Gunderson responded. “They are the ones that voted you all in.”
“I understand, but it always goes back to the land,” Merrill said. “It’s the property owner not the residents. That’s the truth.”
“That’s true, but who do you guys represent?” Gunderson asked. “The people that voted you in aren’t living in Texas.”
“We try and represent everyone Dean,” Merrill replied. “It’s not an easy thing on this side of the table either.”
With some further discussion, a roll call vote was made. Supervisors Linus Solberg and Roger Faulstick voted in favor of a moratorium with Supervisors Craig Merrill, Ron Graettinger and Keith Wirtz voting agains; the Moratorium was denied.
In other business regarding wind energy, a public hearing for Palo Alto County Wind Energy Project and Wind Turbine Project Application Review has been set for Thursday, October 5th at 6:30 pm at the VFW in Emmetsburg.