Wind farm ordinance advances - Republic-Times | News

Wind farm ordinance advances

By on October 10, 2012 at 10:41 am

The Monroe County Plan Commission voted unanimously last week to recommend approval of a special use ordinance for wind energy conservation systems, or wind farms.

The ordinance will be presented to the Monroe County Board, most likely be on its Nov. 5 meeting agenda, for approval.

The final document is largely unchanged from the version submitted for a public hearing in April, said Mike Fausz, county developer of mapping and platting. The current version accounts for additional monitoring of wildlife implications once wind turbines have been erected, rather than limiting assessment to pre-construction.

This extensive wind farm project is located adjacent to Interstate 39 north of Springfield. (Alan Dooley photo)

The change came in light of recommendations made by concerned citizens at the public hearing.

“We feel that was a very important step in the process,” Fausz said of holding the meeting and working concerns of residents and environmental organizations, including Clifftop, into the ordinance draft.

Once approved by the county board, wind farms will be considered on a case-by-case basis as special use permits are filed.

As the ordinance is written now, turbines may be up to 650 feet tall, measured from the highest point of the rotating blades down to the ground, including the concrete pad on which the turbine is built.

They must be a minimum of 1.25 times the height of the tower from the nearest residential or commercial structure.

For example, a 650-foot tower has to be at least 812.5 feet from the nearest building.

The potential financial benefit to the county of wind farms comes at a time when taxing bodies are struggling to meet their commitments.

“It could very easily bring in jobs for the construction of the (turbines),” Fausz said.

As local taxing districts, including schools, road districts and more, are struggling with reduced state funding, and local schools have had to start passing additional tax levies to keep operational, the tax revenue from wind farms has the potential to take much of the burden off property owners of the county, according to Fausz.

The ordinance also shows Monroe County as a leader in promoting alternative energy sources, Fausz said.

Local businessman Joe Koppeis identified himself as a potential wind farm developer during the April hearing, saying he started looking at a turbine to go above the underground freezers at his Rock City business development in the Valmeyer caves.

Koppeis, who has been conducting wind studies around the county for about three years, said the area above the freezer is not ideal for wind towers due to bird flight patterns.

But Koppeis said this county provides a good area for wind farms overall due to the availability of transmission lines and short distance to St. Louis, which would allow the electricity to still be considered “green” when it reaches the consumer.


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Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email: andrea@republictimes.net