Winnebago Board Addresses Wind Energy Issue

The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors were briefed in their weekly meeting about the concerns over wind turbines in both Winnebago and Worth Counties. Issues have surfaced with residents and businesses complaining about the distances between turbines, businesses and residential homes. Jeff Gorbell Chair of the Zoning Commission for Worth County explained that Worth County is only zoned in three townships within the county and all seemingly along I-35.

With this in mind, Gorbell stated that a wind farm project was originally slated to be in Freeborn County, but that changed.

Worth County Supervisors took action and passed a moratorium on any new construction of wind energy farms in the county until they could come up with rules that governed the placement and construction of wind turbines in the county.

From here a zoning ordinance was developed that met with favor with the public. According to Gorbell, the wind farm developers had no comment.

Among the numbers presented was 30 hours of shadow flicker is acceptable along with 50 decibels of sound. There is no standard by which the sound would be measured.

One of the major issues that Gorbell and his researchers found was that current ordinances had adopted standards that were well behind those found in current wind turbines.

In order to combat this, setbacks, or the distance from a dwelling to the turbine, had to be determined. The county eventually settled on 3.75 times the total height of the turbine. This would give distance between structures in the event of a fire and would adjust with the newer turbines.

The board adopted a means to hear the concerns of affected residents and businesses.

Winnebago Supervisors wanted to hear what Worth County was doing should the project begin to expand to Winnebago County in the future. This gave the supervisors an idea of what kind of ordinances to draft and legal approaches to take in the future.


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