Wind energy should blow into county


The winds of change are blowing nationwide when it comes to alternative energy, and it appears the breeze is beginning to blow into DeKalb County.

After many months of debate, the county will hold a public hearing Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Sycamore High School gymnasium.

The debate has ensued because NextEra Energy Resources wants to build and operate a wind farm of 151 turbines in parts of DeKalb and Lee counties.

Eighteen would be in Lee County and the rest in DeKalb County, in portions of Afton, Clinton, Milan and Shabbona townships. Lee County officials already have given their blessing to the project and DeKalb County officials could vote on the plan as early as next month.

In an age of advanced technology in virtually every sector of the economy except energy, we fully support the idea to bring the turbine farms to the county, ushering in a new era of responsible energy practice.

Too much focus currently is on sustaining “dirtier” fuels such as coal.

Aside from nuclear energy, which the region already supports, wind energy is the next best alternative to reduce our demand on less environmentally-sound sources of energy.

From what we can gather, the opposition to this plan focuses on the fact that property values would be reduced and quality of life impacted in the immediate vicinity of the turbines.

DeKalb County Planning Director Paul Miller, however, said in a Jan. 23 Daily Chronicle article that 14 of the turbines in DeKalb County would be in the jurisdiction of the villages of Lee and Shabbona, leaving 119 in unincorporated parts of the county, where population is lower.

NextEra is requesting a special use permit to build the wind farm, and it is the company’s responsibility to demonstrate that construction of the farm meets the criteria of the permit.

The turbines, for example, have to be shown to not be detrimental to surrounding property values and future property development.

State regulations also govern noise emissions and shadow flicker; no turbine, for example, can cast a shadow flicker on a home for more than 40 hours a year.

NextEra estimates the project could provide $42 million in property taxes and $50 million in payments to landowners over the next 30 years.

An additional $60 million is expected in the purchase of local goods and services during construction. The project also could generate 200 construction jobs and 20 full-time jobs once work is complete, paying $50 million in salaries and benefits.

In the time of a difficult recession and continued energy volatility, DeKalb County should use its most valuable resource to pioneer a profitable and sensible alternative energy plan: the wind.