The fights over wind turbines in rural Ohio and elsewhere are part of the growing pains of a young industry.
Figuring out the best solutions could make it more likely that Ohio will benefi t from one of the cleanest known energy sources.
A recent split decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, ruling in favor of the wouldbe developers of a wind farm in Champaign County, clears the way for 70 turbines to be erected on 9,000 acres.
The $150 million project has been tied up for years in disputes with neighbors who don’t want to live next-door to mammoth machines that set 170-foot blades spinning hundreds of feet in the air.
Indeed, windmills have ill effects. The spinning blades make noise, and under some conditions, light on the blades can create giant, flickering shadows that unnerve and annoy.
Migrating birds are killed in the blades.
Neighbors, understandably, worry about the possibility of a tower toppling or a blade spinning loose.
Some people might never accept the sight of windmills in vast, formerly open spaces or along shorelines, but they are likely to occur nevertheless.
Others find them majestic looking.
In either case, the benefit of an energy source that requires little water or fuel to generate and doesn’t have to be ripped out of the ground or burned is obvious.
The priority at this point should be to work out reasonable standards for wind farms near homes.
Beyond the more-concrete concerns, such as how close turbines can be to houses or property lines and standards for safe construction, new understandings may emerge about living with noise and shadow flicker.
Communities may conclude that living close to someone else’s windmill is too much to expect, and the cost of wind farms may grow to include buying out willing neighbors or acquiring property through eminent domain.
A happier outcome would be if windmill technology improves to the point that neighbors truly can ignore them.–Columbus Dispatch