Rejected wind farm project might resurface in next county

Farm Forum

LETCHER, S.D. (AP) — A proposed wind farm project rejected by commissioners in Davison County might resurface in neighboring Sanborn County, and some residents there aren’t happy about it.

Minnesota-based Juhl Energy Inc. initially wanted to put up to 11 turbines west of Mitchell. Davison County commissioners rejected the $40 million project in February because of landowner concerns about reduced property values and quality of life.

Juhl Energy has been meeting with landowners in Sanborn County to discuss a potential 9- to 11-turbine wind farm similar to the initial proposal for Davison County, The Daily Republic reported. The project is still in the early stages, with Juhl Energy still considering turbine locations, so no agreements have been established with landowners.

But rural Letcher resident Mary Ann Blindauer, 84, is still worried. She calls wind turbines “monstrosities” that devalue land.

Recently, a representative of Juhl Energy met with some landowners to discuss the project. Company vice president Corey Juhl said nothing is set in stone, but he’s working to “quadruple check” to see if landowners have any questions about the project.

Blindauer said she was asked to consider installing a tower on her property, but she declined over concerns about the potential impact on the value of her land, as well as out of respect to her neighbors.

“I’m not taking it. I don’t want to devalue my land with those things,” Blindauer said. “Plus the fact that I respect my neighbors, too.”

In response to her concern, Juhl said a 2013 study conducted by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found wind farms “produce little or no effect on home values.” He also said the company is trying to be as neighborly as possible and plans to place turbines at least 1,800 feet from a non-participating home.

“The world needs more energy, and renewable energy is good for the planet and good for the local economy when it comes to the tax base, property taxes and short-term and long-term job creation,” Juhl said.

If Juhl decides to seek permits for the project, the plan will need approval from Sanborn County’s Zoning Board and County Commission.