Has the wind started to shift on wind energy?
This brief article crossed my path on Sunday afternoon.
Officials in a southeast Nebraska county are considering a change to their local wind-energy regulations at the request of a group that opposes the growing presence of wind farms in rural areas.
Gage County’s Board of Supervisors will hold a meeting next month to discuss the changes proposed by Prairie Wind Watchers.
Larry Allder of Prairie Wind Watchers says his group wants to increase the minimum setbacks between wind turbines and private property from 3/8ths of a mile to one mile.
He also proposed a requirement that wind companies secure written agreements with property owners before operating a turbine nearby. He says it’s necessary because turbines have grown and now have a wider impact than older models.
As a follow up to Sarah’s post last week about wind turbines going into landfills, it strikes me that we may be reaching a bit of a conundrum when it comes to renewable energy sources. Wind turbines are getting bigger, and it looks like there are more and more people who are fighting the placement of wind generators near them.
While I was in the legislature, there were landowners in my district who love wind energy–often because there was great promise for leasing their land for the placement of turbines which could bring in extra income without the loss of too much usable land.
Of course there were those who opposed additional wind turbines for any number of reasons–not the least of which was that they were close to land that was being courted by the developers, and they didn’t want the turbines in their “backyard”–usually for aesthetic reasons, although some feared health risks that are sometimes suggested with the turbines.
The questions that all of this raises in my mind are ones of property rights. No matter what your views on climate change and the things that need to be done to address it, how will we continue to respect the rights of property owners. If I own land that someone offers me lots of money to put wind turbines on, should my neighbors be able to prevent me from using my property as I see fit? What rights do property owners have when it comes to limiting what others do to their property if it could have a negative–albeit cosmetic–impact on their enjoyment of their property?
While the state, counties, and cities have the power to make general zoning decisions, what are (or should be) the limits to those powers? Are wind farms and solar farms like this one the answer to fossil fuel usage? If they are, how do we deal with the inevitable conflicts about use of private land? Are there ways for us to protect property rights and address the concerns associated with fossil fuel usage?