WARSAW — Wind farms in Kosciusko County have been under the radar for about the last 10 years. Kosciusko County adopted an ordinance governing wind farms in 2009, but since then other than a single wind turbine installed at Tippecanoe Valley High School, there has been little activity in terms of development.
But a Kosciusko County resident has been working to stop wind farm projects in other counties and asked the Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission to consider strengthening the county’s ordinance for more protection. Lynn Studebaker, who lives in Jackson Township near Sidney, gave a detailed presentation to the APC during its regular monthly meeting Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 1, in Warsaw.
Studebaker expressed several concerns about wind farm projects, including noise, shadow flickering, decreasing neighboring property values, bird and bat kills and the potential to ruin farm land forever because the land will never be productive again because most of the huge foundation is left in the ground after a wind farm is decommissioned when the company goes bankrupt. She said many county ordinances are not adequate for decommissioning and the property owner is left “holding the bag” when it comes to taking the structures down.
She noted since the county’s ordinance was adopted in 2009, many companies are building wind turbines twice as large as the previous ones and they are much louder. She said some wind turbines can be seen as far as 25 miles away.
Shadow flickering has become a problem, Studebaker said, and she showed video footage demonstrating this. It can be difficult for neighbors to sleep when the noise and flickering is combined, in addition to the bright red lights on the wind turbines.
Although there have been no major wind farm projects in Kosciusko County, she noted wind energy company Renewable Energy Systems was in the county in 2017 trying to get leases signed as part of a project also involving Miami and Fulton counties. Many Miami and Fulton County residents fought against the project, she noted.
The same company approached Wabash County officials and asked them to change their ordinance to allow higher noise limits. As a result Wabash County changed its ordinance but instead lowered the noise limit and also increased setbacks required from one-half mile to three-fourths of a mile. Studebaker said Kosciusko County should consider increasing setbacks due to the larger size of the wind turbines.
She noted some wind turbines have caught on fire including one in Tipton County and there needs to be a large enough safety buffer to protect nearby residents.
Studebaker’s presentation was not advertised as a public hearing and therefore no vote was taken by the APC on any ordinance amendments. Lee Harman, chairman of the APC, said the information will be considered and possibly acted on during a future meeting.