By John F. Floyd, Special to The Times | The Gadsden Times
Friday, August 22, 2014 | www.gadsdentimes.com
Sometimes you wonder if anything good happens to ordinary good people. In this time of domestic and international strife, local problems are overcome by the enormity of more pressing issues. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars are monumental in relation, domestic unemployment problems persist, the ever-increasing United States debt, racial problems in Ferguson, Mo., and the list goes on.
Good things happened for good people in three small communities as manifested by wonderful news concerning giant windmills and their associated projects. The affected communities are geographically separated but shared the same concerns.
The cancellations of wind development projects started in Tipton, Ind., on July 4 with the announcement that Juwi Wind, a Colorado-based developer, had withdrawn plans for a wind farm that would have included 94 turbines.
The Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development protested the development and were lone voices in the wilderness for a considerable amount of time. The group was concerned about the impact on property values and health issues associated with the giant turbines. In the end, citizens’ voices were heard and their reasoning carried the day.
News concerning projected wind projects got better Aug. 14 with the announcement that E.ON, a wind developer from Texas, canceled plans for constructing a wind farm in Howard County, Ind. The wind project was met with terrific resistance by affected citizens of the associated counties, so much so, that political action committees were formed.
Negative political implications for present county commissioners were a large factor in their efforts to terminate agreements with E.ON. Questions were asked many times about escape clauses in the signed contract with E.ON. The county commissioners stated there would be lawsuits if the county decided to stop the project. Obviously there were escape clauses for both parties, inasmuch, as the contract was rendered null and void.
News concerning wind projects kept getting better with an announcement Aug. 19 that Pioneer Green Energy would terminate a lease on 1,889 acres of property in Etowah and Cherokee counties in Alabama slated to be utilized as a wind farm.
Here again, resistance by residents was instrumental in stopping the construction of giant monsters of the environment. Ginny Shaver, one of the affected residents, engineered legislation passed by Alabama government in Montgomery addressing design specifications.
Mitzi Gibbs Eaker with No Wind Alabama, a citizens group opposed to the Etowah and Cherokee wind project, said she opposed the project because it would have negatively affected her parents’ property in Etowah County.
She further stated, “The residents are ecstatic that they can get back to their lives as normal. We never felt confident. We always wondered what they had in their back pocket. It was only when we learned that the leases were terminated that we knew it was really over.”
However, nothing is really over. No doubt the landowners who stood to reap significant monetary rewards at the expense of the American taxpayer will attempt to interest other wind farm developers. Let’s hope that is not the case.
Three communities, Gadsden, Ala., Kokomo, Ind., and Tipton, Ind., all with an identical problem, separated by miles and in a seemingly hopeless situation, have prevailed in a common effort. Voices of concerned citizens ended projects detrimental to many and beneficial to the few.
Sometimes, with exceptional concerted and focused effort, reason prevails.