A proposed wind farm in Lincoln County has led to controversy over the last few months. A Minnesota lawyer, representing an anti-commercial wind farm group know as WE-CARE South Dakota, went in front of the Lincoln County Commission Tuesday to talk about some concerns.
The potential wind farm could have as many as 500 wind turbines built in Lincoln County. According to Dakota Plains Energy Principle Rob Johnson, the energy created here would generate electricity in up to 13 states. He says the area is great for producing wind energy, but others say the negatives outweigh the positives.
Almost every chair was full at the Lincoln County Commission meeting. Many of the people were wearing pins protesting wind farms. Minnesota Lawyer Dan Schleck says those citizens were concerned that the state has too much power with decisions about giving land to wind energy.
"For my perspective and I think probably for yours, the residents of Lincoln County elected you to direct their land usage control, not the people at the capitol," Schleck said.
During his presentation, the attorney cited reports claiming diminishing property values of homes close to wind farms. Johnson says Lincoln County will benefit from the turbines.
"A lot of concerns are old technology, stuff that happened 20 years ago. Everything has changed a lot better. We feel really good. The wind farm will generate a lot of income for the state, the county, the townships, and the school district," Johnson said.
With people taking opposite sides of the issue, Lincoln County Commissioner Jim Schmidt says picking a side shouldn't be taken lightly.
"I don't want to just make this decision. It's affecting lives and generations and property and the whole nine yards so I think we should spend as much time on this as necessary to make a good decision," Schmidt said.
He will have some time. Crews installed a met tower in April. It collects wind information to help the energy company find out if Lincoln County is a worthy spot for a wind farm. That information could take up to five years to collect.
The met tower measures wind velocity and wind frequency. Johnson says they plan on installing anywhere from five to nine more towers this year.