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GUEST COLUMN

By Staff | Sep 2, 2016

Our state economy is fueled by farming. Dealerships, part suppliers, agronomy, seed dealers, elevators, trucking, insurance, banking and our tax base are all effected greatly by farm production.

Farming in Iowa thrives thanks to our largest infrastructure, not our roads or our power lines, it is our extensive tiling systems. Field drainage tiles help our water to be filtered through the soil instead of running directly off the surface of the land taking with it valuable topsoil.

If our 100-year-old tiling systems are compromised then the state will lose revenue quickly. Wind energy is compromising our tiling systems with its network of buried electric lines between turbines. What tiling company wants to fix or install tile in a field where it may hit a high voltage power line?

Wind companies have been asked to trench the lines in under the tiles, but they balk at the expense. If we let them avoid this expense now then how will we afford to replace the 100-year-old county tiles when needed?

If we take the risk and allow wind energy companies to build their projects without cementing the rules and consequences then what power will the communities have over the powerful and wealthy companies that build and buy wind farms? Their lawyers will run over our county governments and we will be beholden because of the money we take.

Now is the only time we will have power over the wind companies and right now is when they are desperate to get our permission. This year they must begin their projects or their tax incentives will begin to diminish. They will say just about anything to get their foot in the door and have hired the best negotiators to make it happen.

As Big Wind envisions turbines increasing to 850 feet high and 500 turbines in every county we also need to envision our own futures. Are 1,100-foot setbacks from property lines far enough? The setbacks need to be tailored to the size of the turbine, twice their height should be the absolute minimum.

Is the half-mile setback from homes, which is the same as hog confinements, something we dare negotiate on? Shouldn’t our homes be as important as our eagle’s nests which also have a setback of a half-mile from turbines? If a neighbor’s turbines keep a farmer from using aerial applications, will that landowner be compensated and by whom?

Do we need a height limit? A limit to the number of turbines allowed in the county? Do we want a landscape where at any point we will be able to see at least 2,000 turbines from anywhere that has a view of the horizon?

In 20 to 40 years, if the turbines need to be decommissioned will $25,000 really be enough or will the counties be left holding the bag? If not, then who?

If you don’t want others to tell you what you can or can’t do on your property then don’t do things that adversely affects your neighbor’s land and livelihood.

Janna Swanson is an Ayrshire-area farmer.

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