Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wind farms and new transmission lines spark conflicts in rural Missouri, farmer-columnist writes

"The growth of wind farming in Missouri creates green energy and less dependence on out-of-state- coal. But the impacts of turbines and transmission lines may also spark neighbor-to-neighbor, farmer-to-government, and rural-to-urban tensions," the Daily Yonder says over farmer Richard Oswald's latest "Letter from Langdon," a town in northwest Missouri.
Signs near Osborne, Missouri, oppose wind-turbine farms. (Daily Yonder photo)
"Here on the edge of Langdon, I see loaded Burlington Northern Santa Fe coal cars heading south with an equal number of empties going back north night and day, a few hours apart round the clock," supplying rural electric cooperatives, Oswald writes. "As far as they’re concerned, it’s cheap as dirt. That’s why Missouri REC boards opposed Obama administration efforts toward more renewable energy and a reduction in the use of coal for electrical generation. But we have a growing number of wind farms in Missouri, some owned by foreign corporations. Modern wind turbines have almost doubled in size. Some can be as tall as 500 feet. Residents living nearby say they light up the house at night with red aviation avoidance lights. They say turbines are noisy, an eyesore, and destroy beneficial populations of bats and birds. Their huge 1,000-ton concrete bases buried deep in into the earth render that spot unusable for anything else – forever. But with more towers going up every day, leaseholders are becoming savvier and are negotiating stricter terms, like removal of both the tower and its base, and access roads, should the lease be terminated."

Such concerns extend far beyond wind-power sites, Oswald writes: "More wind turbines means more power transmission lines. As more wind towers go up, more lines materialize across rolling, treeless parts of rural Missouri. Farmers and property owners hosting those lines aren’t treated nearly as well as turbine leaseholders. Farmers hate power lines. That’s why being part of private industry instead of a public utility with right of eminent domain makes locating those power lines challenging."

Oswald notes that rural Missourians have successfully resisted the Grainbelt Express Line proposed by Cleanline, a private power-line company. "For now, in Missouri, the Cleanline project is on indefinite hold."

No comments: