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Henry Co (IN) Planning Commission: Arguments for, against wind farm

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 26, 2019  /   Posted in wind  /   No Comments

Henry County Plan Commission_07-23-2019

Members of the Henry County (IN) Planning Commission hearing testimony on 7/23/19 on the Big Blue River Wind Farm proposed by the Calpine Corp.

Big Blue River Wind Farm hearing

A very large turn out in Bundy Auditorium in New Castle for the 4.5 hour public hearing.


Rep. Tom Sauders (R-Lewisville) attended and testified 7/23/19.

Above photos taken by Laura Ann Arnold

Arguments for, against wind farm

Darryl Neal (right) points to a map showing where a proposed wind turbine would go up across the street from the home his son, Jake, is building. Darryl wondered outloud if Jake should have even started work on the new home. The map also shows four-mile buffer zones around different communities in that part of the county.


“Thank you, Henry County, for showing up tonight,” County Commission Ed Tarantino said Tuesday.

Tarantino was speaking to the Henry County Planning Commission – and the hundreds of people sitting out in Bundy Auditorium to see how the planning commission voted on a proposed wind farm.

The Henry County Planning Commission ultimately did not approve a permit request Tuesday night for the Big Blue River Wind Farm, which is owned by Calpine Corporation.

Before their final vote, however, the planning commission members heard approximately two hours of comments from people supporting the application, people opposing the application and government entities and representatives.

In support

The first two people to speak in favor of Henry County’s proposed wind farm were actually from Indianapolis.

Lauren Ann Arnold offered a national perspective of the energy regulatory industry. Arnold said there is a nationwide move of energy companies to strive for 100% carbon-free renewable energy as the long-term expectation for meeting electricity needs.

Jared Noblitt serves as Executive Director of the Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy.

“While many folks of Henry County seem fixated on the negatives of allowing wind turbines here, we are focused on the benefits,” Noblitt said.

Noblitt argued a wind farm in Henry County would generate millions of dollars in property taxes, helping get around the state’s property tax caps.

He said a project like Calpine’s would also give local farmers another way to get the most out of their personal property.

New Castle resident Bruce Bailey said wind farm projects could be step in the right direction to combating climate change.

“The world needs alternative, renewable sources of energy to replace carbon-based fuels,” Bailey said. “Henry County needs to participate in this transfer to alternative sources of energy.”

Henry County farmer David Score said it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet in farming. Allowing some farmers to install wind turbines on their land could help matters, he said.

One speaker also argued for the wind farm project because it would take a 1-1.5 years to complete and that means jobs for people in Henry County.

“If they do come, they will be built union and they will be built local,” he said.

In total, 10 people spoke in support of the permit request.

In opposition

Attorney Steve Snyder represented several individuals and five local towns at Tuesday’s public hearing. Snyder reminded the planning commission members they have the authority to increase safety setback distances beyond the minimums in the county ordinance.

“If you review the information I have provided on setbacks, you will see that 1,500 ft. setback from a residence is woefully inadequate,” Snyder said.

Snyder said the five towns he represents have filed suit against Big Blue River Wind Farm LLC “to enforce health and safety ordinances that were adopted by the towns.”

Snyder said those ordinances, which create four-mile buffer zones around each town, were created by state lawmakers to give Indiana towns the ability to protect their citizens from “threats to health and safety” existing outside the towns.

Harrison Township resident Rosalind Richey accused Calpine of not meeting all the requirements in their application. Richey said, for example, the studies provided do not cover low-frequency noise or infrasound, as outlined in the ordinance.

Richey claimed the plan also ignores other underground utilities in the area.

“This plan puts the health and safety and general welfare of potentially thousands of people at risk,” Richey said.

Mike Hagerman, also from Harrison Township, called the public hearing “another opportunity for this planning commission to protect Henry County and Henry County citizens.”

Hagerman was distressed at the thought of the earthwork that would be required to pour the foundations of 500 ft. turbines. He also worried about the concrete bases leeching into underground water supplies.

Retired educator Robert Hobbs said three turbines are planned near his home.

Hobbs asked for clarification on any penalties Henry County could use against Calpine or any other company that violated the wind ordinances.

Betsy Mills, from rural Middletown, and Jim McShirley, of Jefferson Township, argued that wind turbines would suppress growth in Henry County.

McShirley used the terms “walled off, entombed, encapsulated” to describe what could happen to Henry County as economic growth continues to spread for Indianapolis.

In total, 15 people spoke in opposition to the permit request.


State Representative Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) was included in the “opposition” segment of the public hearing. Nonetheless, he spoke as the man who represents Henry County in the Statehouse.

Saunders pointed out that in the most recent legislative session, the legislature grandfathered 12 ordinances into law from Henry County towns that created the buffer zones mentioned earlier in the meeting.

Saunders had a 2008 Indiana Supreme Court ruling as support to his argument that towns have the ability to pass local regulatory ordinances, even if they don’t have explicit zoning authority.

“Those ordinances were adopted legally and lawfully and they stand that way today,” Saunders said to the planning commission. “I think, and you guys can correct me if I’m wrong, of the 38 turbines, 36 are within the buffer zone.”

Saunders said it appeared Henry County voters spoke in the last election when they replaced five incumbents with anti-wind candidates.

“I think it is our duty to represent the people who sent us here and who elect us and depend on us to look out for their well-beings,” Saunders said.

Commissioner Tarantino said, “For Henry County, the negatives far outweigh the positives.”

Susan Huhn, president of the Henry County Council, quoted figures from Calpine claiming the wind farm could provide $800,000 a year, on average, in tax revenue for Henry County. Huhn asked how much that new money could ultimately cost the community.

Huhn said wind farms could discourage families from moving to Henry County. Fewer families mean fewer students enrolled in local schools. Which in turn translates to less state funding and even less money to pay teachers.

“We need to choose wisely how we use our resources,” Huhn said.

Henry County Auditor Debbie Walker cited enrollment data further illustrating how school districts around wind farms lost students after turbines went up in their area. County Council member Peg Stefandel showed that Henry County has a higher population density than any other Indiana county that has industrial wind turbines.

Linda Winchester, Henry County Recorder, recounted the hours and money people have spent in her office researching proposed wind farm projects over the years.

“As on official, I know the importance of listening and working on behalf of my constituents,” Winchester said. “We are to serve them, abiding by their wishes. Otherwise, we jeopardize their trust in our positions as officials.”

Winchester also recently learned she may be living in the proposed wind farm area.

“Like the voters, I do not wish to live in such a project,” she told the planning commission.

The Henry County Planning Commission ultimately voted 4-4 on the request. Because the request needed five votes either way to definitively be approved or denied, it is officially “not approved.”

There was no word from the Planning Commission office as of Wednesday afternoon what the next steps are – if any – regarding Calpine’s application.

Editor's note: Comments from Henry County Council President Susan Huhn were clarified.

Henry Co. (IN) Hearing 7/23/19 on Big Blue River Wind Farm

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 23, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized, wind  /   No Comments





Darrin Jacobs                                                                                      Phone 765-529-7408

Zoning Administrator                                                                         Fax     765-521-7072


RE:      NOTICE of Planning Commission Case B:2228

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

The purpose of this letter is to notify you that the Henry County Planning Commission has received a petition from Big Blue River Wind Farm, LLC of 717 Texas Avenue, Suite 1000, Houston, Texas 77002, requesting to receive a Commission Approved Use (CAU) for a Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) Project to be known as the Big Blue River Wind Farm. The Project is to consist of not more than 38 wind turbines. Properties within the Project area are owned by multiple property owners located in portions of Fall Creek, Jefferson, Prairie, Henry, Harrison, and Greensboro Townships.

For the purpose of considering the effect of this request, the Planning Commission will conduct a Public Hearing to be held in Bundy Auditorium, 601 Parkview Dr. New Castle, IN 47362 at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019.

Interested persons desiring to present their views upon the proposed change will be given the opportunity to be heard at the above mentioned time and place or may submit their views in writing by contacting the Planning Commission at the Henry County Office Building, 1201 Race St., Suite 214, New Castle, Indiana 47362. All information concerning this case is on file in the office of the Planning Commission and is available for inspection during regular business hours or online at The hearing may be continued from time to time as may be found necessary.

This Hearing is open to the public and is not limited to those receiving copies of this Notice. For special accommodations needed for disabled individuals planning to attend, contact (765) 529-7408 at least forty-eight hours prior to the meeting to make arrangements.



Darrin Jacobs

Zoning Administrator

Henry County Planning Commission

(765) 529-7408

Maryland’s highest court rules state can trump counties in deciding where solar, wind projects can go

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 18, 2019  /   Posted in solar, wind  /   No Comments

Maryland’s highest court rules state can trump counties in deciding where solar, wind projects can go

Vectren RFP: Comments, Responses and Replies

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

CenterPoint Vectren logo

Initial comments sent to Vectren concerning their All Source RVP

Vectren response to the Joint comments on RFP

Second set of joint comments

Currently awaiting Vectren response to second set of comments.

Vectren 2019 All-Source RFP Schedule

Event Anticipated Date
RFP Issued Wednesday June 12, 2019
Notice of Intent, RFP NDA, and Respondent Pre-Qualification Application Due 5:00 p.m. CDT
Thursday, June 27, 2019
Respondents Notified of Results of Pre-Qualification Application Review 5:00 p.m. CDT
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Proposal Submittal Due Date 5:00 p.m. CDT
Wednesday July 31, 2019
Initial Proposal Review and Evaluation Period Wednesday, July 31, 2019 – Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Proposal Evaluation Completion Target and Input to Vectren 2nd Quarter, 2020
Due Diligence and Negotiations Period Mid 2020
Definitive Agreement(s) Executed (subject to regulatory approvals) with Selected Respondent(s) Late 2020
Petitions (if required) filed with the IURC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), or any other required agency / commission TBD

We Energies blocks Eagle Point Solar in Milwaukee

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   July 12, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Solar flare-up: Utility blocks Iowa firm from harnessing the sun in Milwaukee

This solar array of 836 panels on the city of Dubuque, Iowa’s Municipal Services Center was the subject of a lawsuit that opened the door in Iowa for private companies to partner with governments and other entities to provide solar energy. A similar legal battle is playing out in Wisconsin over a proposed project in the city of Milwaukee. Dubuque-based Eagle Point Solar is the private company involved in both projects. Photo taken July 1, 2019.

As solar energy has become more popular and cost-effective, this once fringe renewable source is now at the center of an energy turf war in Wisconsin.

At issue is a project in which an Iowa-based renewables company wants to partner with the city of Milwaukee to power seven municipal buildings with solar. Eagle Point Solar would help to finance the city’s project, taking advantage of federal tax breaks that local governments do not qualify for.

Eagle Point is suing the public utility, We Energies, for refusing to connect a series of solar arrays to each other. We Energies says it is simply following the law. The utility claims Eagle Point would essentially be selling electricity to the city within We Energies’ service area, which the utility argued would be illegal.

“Assuming it’s safe, reliable and legal, we have no problem. It’s just when it is not a legal agreement, we obviously can’t connect that,” We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway said.

Eagle Point also sued the Public Service Commission, which declined to take up its complaint against We Energies, also known as Wisconsin Electric Power Co., essentially ducking the bigger question of to what extent utilities in Wisconsin can control the provision of solar energy.

“This case is very important and is being watched in other states,” said Brad Klein, a lawyer with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a legal advocacy group that focuses on the Midwest. “The definition of ‘public utility’ is becoming more important as new technologies like solar emerge that allow customers and private businesses to assume roles that once could only be played by large monopoly utilities.”

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