Indiana consumer group backing planned wind farm

A consumer advocacy group that backs a proposed central Indiana wind farm has accused the project's opponents of spreading misinformation about the electricity-generating turbines in an attempt to keep it from being built.

The Indianapolis-based Citizens Action Coalition sent a letter to the Tipton County Plan Commission last week calling the opponents' arguments off-the-wall and unsubstantiated, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

One wind farm developer last year finished building 125 turbines in Tipton County and neighboring Madison County, while some residents of Tipton and Howard counties are fighting plans by another company to put up nearly 100 more turbines.

Jeff Hoover of Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development, a group that opposes the project, said it's time for county officials to realize how many people don't want industrial wind farms in the area about 40 miles north of Indianapolis.

"We have provided scientific and empirical data," Hoover said. "That data shows property value loss and health and safety concerns. Every group has the right to their own opinion."

Colorado-based juwi Wind is seeking approval to build about 90 turbines for the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in a rural area northwest of Tipton. Its request includes a reduction in the county's required 1,500-foot distance between the wind farm's turbines and neighboring homes to 1,400 feet from homes on properties not involved with the project and 1,250 feet from homes on participating properties.

Construction finished late last year on 125 turbines in eastern Tipton County and northern Madison County for the Wildcat Wind Farm developed by E.ON Climate and Renewables of Chicago. Nearly 200 more turbines are planned in neighboring Howard and Grant counties in later phases.

Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, disputed claims that property values decrease around a wind farm and said data indicates that wind power is less expensive than electricity from a new coal-fired plant.

Olson said it isn't clear who is paying for the research cited by wind farm opponents.

"We don't doubt that there are concerns," he said. "But the claims should be backed up by scientific research and empirical data. We would question the motives of those opposed to wind energy."

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