Lucas Nelsen, a program policy associate at the Lyons-based Center for Rural Affairs, says many county leaders don’t have the expertise needed to come up with appropriate rules and policies.
“Counties can find themselves way over their heads just from the amount of information they have to dig through,” Nelsen says. “What we wanted to develop was a guide that just lays out the basic features of a wind energy ordinance. It’s not exactly a blueprint you would adopt wholesale but it’s something that walks you through the pieces you’d expect to find in an ordinance.”
Nelsen says many counties have a hard time finding a balance between development and private property rights.
“You have to allow the public to come in and be a part of the process and try to find the middle ground, that’s the most important part,” Nelsen says. “Don’t just pass something to pass something. Really try to find a compromise that can ensure that people have the right to use their land but also people don’t feel like they’re being caught out by any development.”
Nelsen says it’s best if the public is involved from the earliest stages and he says if private developers approach you and want a meeting, you might not want to take them up on it.
“Try and figure out if you can have that happen at a community level, not just at a private level,” he says. “In some of those cases, just meeting and hashing out the concerns, figuring out if you’re just hearing rumors about a thing rather than what the facts may actually be, it’s an important piece, too.”
Nelsen says tax policy, energy demand, and the development of new power lines is helping spur the drive to build wind power projects.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton