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Wind farm controversy could blow into Daviess County

February 3, 2010

A Spanish energy company announced in October that it planned to begin testing a spot in northeastern Daviess County to see if this area could sustain a commercial wind farm.

In this photo taken Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010, wind turbines are seen been used to generate electricity near the small town of Darling situated on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. Across the world renewable energy sources are beening tested, including wind turbines for generating electricity. (AP Photo)

Heartland Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, filed for a permit to build a meteorological tower near the town of Knottsville to begin two years of study to see if the wind patterns and terrain could support such an alternative energy venture.

Wind power is apparently a growing industry in the U.S., and Jon Hale with The Rural Blog has offered several posts on the issue, including the ongoing controversy in Wisconsin over whether these wind farms are beautiful or bothersome.

Hale points to a recent article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette that shows people near the town Byron, Wisc., divided over the issue.

From Press-Gazette the article

Hardly anyone around here, it seems, is lacking in a strong opinion about wind farms, whether favorable or critical. Living on the cutting edge of energy policy reform does not lend itself to feelings of ambivalence.

Long after it began operating south of Fond du Lac with more than 80 wind turbines, the Forward Wind Energy Center divides residents as sharply as it did when the project was announced five years ago.

Opponents of the operations insist that wind turbines are jeopardizing people’s health and destroying the area’s peaceful aesthetics. Supporters, meanwhile, remain equally certain that wind energy is liberating the United States from both air pollution and dependence on foreign oil.

As state leaders push mandates for alternative energy sources, the debate that has absorbed neighbors here could soon reach a growing number of town halls. At least 20 other commercial wind farms are being planned or developed in Manitowoc County, Outagamie County and elsewhere.

Such advances, and controversy, are likely a ways off for Daviess County, but given the recent growth in the wind industry and the emphasis at both the state and federal levels, many communities like this one may be faced in the future with the questions about whether to turn to wind turbines for energy.

As Hale noted in an earlier post, the American Wind Energy Association reported that wind-power capacity grew by 39 percent in 2009. That wouldn’t account for the exploration of other geographic areas, like here in Daviess County, to find the ability to expand that capacity in the future.

Like many energy sources, wind-generated power is dependent upon place – some geographies won’t support the wind speed or consistency needed to make the expensive, towering wind turbines profitable. But potential exists in some areas, and Daviess County might be one of those places that could make wind power work.

Kentucky is still coal country, but that shouldn’t exclude the exploration of other power possibilities in Daviess County or elsewhere in the state. On Monday, we weighed in with an editorial saying that Kentucky should lift its moratorium on nuclear power plants so that it can participate in the discussion about expanding that type of power generation in the United States.

The debate over whether this community should be home to a wind farm might be a fierce one, but it’s a discussion worth having.

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