It has the potential to produce enough energy for more than 6,000 households in Boone County. It's harmless to the environment and it's free. 'It', is a wind farm. But a proposal to build one in Caledonia isn't blowing over too well with some residents.
A new cash crop has blown into Boone County - literally. Four local farmers want to harvest wind on their Caledonia land and generate energy for thousands of area residents.
"It's a very good project and it will benefit a lot of people," says Caledonia Farmer Wallace Ramsay.
Advocates discussed the 25-million dollar plan Monday. The proposal is to build 15 wind turbines -similar to these in nearby Pawpaw - on 2 acres. It requires a zoning change. And some neighboring residents argue the project would not be a windfall to their property values:
"There's an urban myth out there that putting up a wind farm will diminish property value, but all of the research indicates that's not true," says Barry Matchett of the Environmental Policy Center.
"I see no negative effects of it, but some people just don't like the looks of them," adds Caledonia Trustee Jack Ferry.
Critics believe windmills will deal a blow to the growing county. They don't believe urban sprawl and wind farms go hand in hand. But Matchett says, given our rising energy costs, more people are realizing the benefits of renewable energy sources like wind. It doesn't pollute the air and more important..."It's free. Once it's built, the wind turns the turbines - that's it - all you’re doing is financing the debt you took to build the turbines," says Matchett.
But while they may see the need, some neighbors say they're not willing to see the solution in their own backyards.
A third and final public hearing on the zoning change for the project is scheduled for Tuesday night. The Boone County board of appeals is expected to make their recommendations for the project at the end of that meeting. However, the issue is not expected to go before the full board for a vote until sometime next month.