The Herald Bulletin

December 1, 2012

Our View: Wind farm, despite drawbacks, good for Madison County area


The Herald Bulletin

— Today’s special report on the Wildcat Wind Farm north of Elwood illustrates the power and majesty of the renewable wind source. It also shows a landscape forever changed.

There are many pluses to capturing wind energy. It’s always there, especially in flat areas like northern Madison County. Wind production doesn’t contribute to greenhouse gases that pollute the atmosphere. Remote areas far from the power grid can tap into wind energy for local power. The turbines come in a range of sizes and aren’t all as big as the ones dotting the landscape north of Elwood. This means businesses and individuals can use turbines for power.

There are drawbacks, too, mostly aesthetic. The  turbines are noisy, and many people don’t like looking over the fields and seeing the giant wind mills forever turning.

Possibly the biggest drawback is that wind farms cannot produce enough electricity to serve a large amount of homes and businesses. As of now, the turbines will be used in conjunction with coal-powered energy, which adds to the greenhouse gas problem.

As in every stage of human development, we’ve given up some things to take advantage of others. Wind power is no different. The technology will continue improving, bringing more wind energy to produce electricity. These processes are not always swift, but in a world where fossil fuels must surely run out one day, renewable energy such as wind will be absolutely necessary.

Bill Savage, Elwood’s economic development director, says the wind farm is good for Elwood in the long term and will put the city on the map. Elwood, as well as the rest of Madison County, will be the recipient of the property taxes E-On — the company behind the wind farm — will pay.

The local money numbers sound good, but a large part of the development of wind energy is federally funded. E-On is busy getting as many turbines in the air before Dec. 31 when the government subsidies for wind dower might dry up. The wind mills are expensive to build and put up, and without federal money many companies won’t have the capital to launch a wind farm on their own.

When finished, the wind farm will have towers in four counties — Madison, Tipton, Grant and Howard. They will take up a lot of land but, going up in the air, will leave most of the land to be farmed.

It’s nice to see Madison County be involved in the wind farm. The potential, despite the drawbacks, is enormous. The turbines going up now have a life span of 30 years. Who knows how far wind energy will have advanced by the year 2042? Finding new energy sources will always occupy societies. Madison County has a head start now.