Residents from Pipe Township near Nichols brought up their concerns about a company from Canada wanting to build a wind farm there at the supervisors meeting Monday, May 1.
Rhonda Meredith of Bay Circle in Pike Township told the supervisors residents in her township received letters from Liberty Power from Canada on April 12. The letter invited residents in her township and the Wapsinonoc Township to attend a meeting April 27 to learn more about leasing wind turbines on their properties.
“We attended that meeting and we have several concerns,” Meredith said.
She said she felt like they were given a sales pitch from Liberty Power.
“We’re concerned about the magnitude of the project,” Meredith said. “They’re proposing 60 wind turbines in the Pipe Township, Wapsi Township area. From St. Mary’s Cemetery at Highway 22 going northeast toward West Liberty.”
The map the power company used to send letters to residents for the meeting was three years old, she added. When she asked representatives from that company why they were doing that they replied, “this is what Muscatine County gave us.”
Meredith did her own research on wind turbines after the meeting she attended, she told the supervisors. The average wind turbine is 275 to 300 feet high. The turbines the company wants to install in Muscatine County were developed for off shore areas in the ocean.
Meredith asked the company representatives if they were aware of the county ordinances regarding wind turbines. The representatives replied no.
“So we are very concerned that this company is pushing quickly in trying to get as many signatures as possible,” Meredith said.
The pitch company representatives gave for having a wind turbine on the properties in these two townships were this would leave a legacy for their children. Residents would also receive up to $18,000 annually per turbine. The money comes from the percentage of wind the turbine produces.
There were 35 signatures on the attendance list at meeting, according to Meredith’s sister who was also in attendance at the meeting. If 25 landowners signed on to have wind turbine on their property the company would be good to go.
“And so my feeling is they’re coming through the back door to start getting people to sign up and then coming to you as the supervisor’s to back track,” Meredith said.
She asked the supervisors to take their time making a decision about this project.
The reason why Liberty Power is in such a hurry to get this project in the works before the end of 2024 is because the Inflation Reduction Act.
“It’s saying they can get their tax credits for the wind turbines if the project is in the works before the end of 2024,” Meredith told the supervisors.
The first phase is land acquisition in 2023 and 2024, she added.
Another concern Meredith brought up was pilings would have to be drilled into the ground because the turbines are so tall. Driving the pilings into the ground could cause damage to the land and building foundations.
The length and speed of the blades for the wind turbines also raise concerns.
“The blades are 250 feet long and a football field is typically 300,” Meredith said. “There are three blades. We paced it off on our property and couldn’t believe the length that they are. They will go 200 miles an hour.”
Meredith asked if anyone knew what the consequences would be for building such large wind turbines like this? How would it impact crop dusting, rainfall patterns or water tables?
“So I’m asking you to move quickly to get the information that you need,” she said. “To make sure all landowners and trusts and property managers are getting this information. That they understand the height of the turbines.”
She also said everyone in Muscatine County be told about this company’s proposal and asked the supervisors to look at their ordinances carefully. She wanted the supervisors to take their time regarding this topic.
Supervisor Danny Chick told Meredith there was a process the Liberty Power would have to follow. The proposal would have to be reviewed by the county engineer and zoning department regardless of whether or not there are signed contracts. The ordinance may have to be reviewed as well because it was written for wind turbines not as high as these.
Sorensen told Meredith the way this developer was going about things was unusual. Typically developers reach out to the county first to look into what the requirements were for wind turbines. He thanked Meredith for the research she has done. He said he was unaware this was happening and asked if the county received a letter from Liberty Power.
Supervisor Kirk Kirchner said the county received a letter the week before from the company and acknowledged they were moving fast. He received a letter as a property owner about the meeting the weekend before it was supposed to happen.
Muscatine County Attorney Jim Barry said the way this company was working wasn’t unusual for green energy companies. However, before anything would move forward the plats of the lands the wind turbines would be installed on would need to be investigated, who owns them and a public notice would have to be published for each of those plats. Also, the company would have to ask for a hearing from the supervisors under the “special land use policy” the county has even if there were signed agreements.