Puppets on a string


Credit: Emmetsburg News|December 19th, 2017

At the Supervisors meeting of Oct 24, they adamantly denied the accusation that they had effectively let Invenergy and MidAmerican Energy write the Palo Alto County Wind Energy Ordinance. However, documents obtained by way of the Iowa Open Records Act indicate otherwise. The original ordinance, written Aug 11, 2016, clearly did not meet with Invenergy’s and MidAmerican Energy’s approval. In a memo from Invenergy and MidAmerican Energy to the Supervisors dated Aug 26, 2016, the company states, “there are some key provisions that must be changed if the county desires to attract and encourage the development of wind energy conversion systems” Following are some specific examples comparing the original ordinance with the one modified to meet Invenergy’s demands.

Compliance with Palo Alto County Zoning Ordinance: Original: “requirement to obtain a certificate of zoning compliance in accordance with Article 9, Section 5 of the Palo Alto County Zoning Ordinance.” – Modified: zoning compliance eliminated.

Setbacks from Permanent Residential Dwellings: Original: 2640 ft.- Modified: 1500 ft.

Setbacks from Property Lines: Original: 1000 ft. – Modified: 120% of height of wind device (approximately 600 ft).

Setbacks of Wind Energy Accessory buildings from permanent residential dwellings: Original: 2640 ft. – Modified: 1500 ft.

Shadow Flicker: Original: “No wind energy conversion system shall be installed in any location where shadow shall fall on any existing residential structures.” – Modified: “The owner-developer shall use shadow flicker computer modeling to estimate the amount of shadow flicker anticipated before mitigating any of it.” (How reassuring it is to learn that how I feel about my health will be determined by an energy company’s computer model.)

Drainage Systems: Original: “Permit required if underground electrical construction activity spans across organized drainage districts and private tile systems. – Modified: No permit required for affecting private tile systems.

These are just some of the many changes demanded by Invenergy and MidAmerican Energy to increase the profitability of their project. Clearly most of the Supervisors, with assistance from other county employees, capitulated to every demand, without considering residents who are adversely affected by the project, and who elect and pay these county officials to look after their well-being.

Instead, these same officials have forfeited the health, environment, and homes of some of their constituents to generate huge profits for companies like Invenergy, Mid-American Energy and its billionaire investors like Warren Buffet, and large wealthy landowners, most of whom are absentee. Nearly all major projects such as this involve costs and downsides, as well as any benefits. In this case there are many downsides, starting with the ill health effects on humans caused by shadow flicker, audible noise, and worst of all, infrasound, which can cause stress, sleeplessness, and nausea. Further, there can be adverse effects on farm animals as well. Also, wind turbines can kill many birds, especially when placed too close to lakes and wetlands. Therefore, it is so important to follow regulations and perform due diligence, neither of which has been undertaken by our county officials.

Dr. Stephen Mathis

Professor Emeritus,

Shippensburg University,



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