Clinton County residents packed the Edwards Jones Building on Thursday evening on the Clinton County Fairgrounds to hear presentations and ask questions at the Clinton Wind Open House.

E.ON Climate & Renewables, a renewable energy company based out of Chicago, invited the residents to the open house in the hope of gaining public support for a Clinton County wind farm. Lael Eason, E.ON’s director of development Midwest/Northeast Region, estimated that around 275 people attended the open house, which began with a buffet dinner catered by Shoup’s Country Foods.

“We are thrilled that every seat was taken,” Eason said. “We used all the table and chairs in the venue and had people standing along the walls. We had food for 500 people and basically went through it all. We appreciate the community coming out to hear facts.

“I thought it was a success for E.ON and the community as a whole,” Eason added. “Last night demonstrated that there is a lot of support in the community and people are open to hearing more. We had one lady who came and admitted that she was on the fence. I would say she was won over by having more information. I would define that as a success.”

Eason presented information on the project and had guest speakers present information on common concerns that people have in regards to sound, health, economics, property values and effects on the environment.

After the guest speakers were finished with their presentations, they made their selves available for 1-on-1 discussions during an hour-and-a-half Q&A session.

Some who were in attendance at the open house, including interested land owners, were hopeful that the information presented would help sway public sentiment in support of allowing a wind farm in the county. The county government has had a moratorium on wind farms since 2017.

“I think any person that has concerns – they should be answered tonight,” said Mike Cline. “That is the reason for this meeting. All of the issues that some of the people who are opposed to wind farms bring up, those have all been dispelled by existing wind farms that are already in operation.

“I think another message that the landowners and the people who signed up with E.ON would like to send to the commissioners is to remove the moratorium and allow the process to move forward. The opportunity that the commissioners and county council has to bring economic development of this magnitude to the rural part of the county is almost unheard of. All of these counties are struggling financially to increase their revenue. They need new economic development opportunities, and this wind farm is one of them.”

“I think this is a good opportunity for people who need the facts rather than just hearsay, so that they will find accurate information about wind energy and a proposed wind project in Clinton County,” said Nancy Cline. “We have a vested interest. But, not only do we pay property taxes in Clinton County, but we also have four grandchildren right now attending Clinton Central schools. So, it would benefit the schools.

“People ask me why I am in favor is this,” Nancy continued. “It is a perfect economic development tool for a rural community where there will not be other economic development opportunities.”

Others were open to the project as long as there were assurances and fair compensation for residents of the county.

“It is in the early stages, but I think they are moving in a positive direction as far as the community is concerned,” said Rod Lucas, a representative for iron workers in the region. “I feel they can do more. That is my concern – that they are not doing enough for the community. If you are going to put something here that will be here for 30 years, they need to do more.

“I also want the company to hold to the promise of using local people when possible,” Lucas added. “We do have trained people. There are plenty of qualified people who are local. And the surrounding counties have plenty of people who can do these jobs. So, I want to make sure that they do that. They need to use these people because they are more than qualified for it. Someone who lives in the community is going to take care of the community.”

For years, Responsible Harvest of Clinton County has been outspoken in its opposition to having a wind farm in Clinton County.

“The biggest thing is the missed opportunity cost,” said Sandy Robertson, a member of Responsible Harvest of Clinton County. “When you look at the economic development potential in Clinton County, and you look at our demographics and geography, we are bordered by three of the fastest growing counties in Indiana in both business and population. Two of those counties, Tippecanoe and Hamilton, are two of the fastest growing counties in the United State. Why would want to do an industrial development and turn the eastern half of Clinton County into an economic dead zone?

“What do we want our county to be 50 or 100 years down the road,” Robertson added. “I think when we look at where we are at, this is not the best opportunity, and it is not going to be beneficial for real economic development.”

Robertson noted that a list of questions were sent to Eason before the open house, and none of the submitted questions were addressed at the event.

In a Sept. 10 post on its Facebook page, which tagged multiple news outlets, Responsible Harvest of Clinton County, Inc. wrote that, “With only 111 days left in 2019, it is clear that E.ON is desperately trying to get a project approved before the federal subsidies, specifically the Production Tax Credit (PTC), phases out completely. According to their website, ‘the clock is ticking,’ and we, ‘need to act now.’ Despite these fear tactics, our commissioners Clinton County Commissioner Joshua Uitts, Scott Shoemaker, and Steve Woods have continued to make our community a better place without sacrificing the health and well-being of their constituents, and we as a community won’t be bullied or rushed into a project for the benefit of a company that couldn’t even take the time to call into a radio broadcast to promote its own event.”

On Monday, both E.ON and Responsible Harvest of Clinton County are on the agenda to address the Clinton County Commissioners at their 9:15 a.m. Monday meeting in the Skanta Theatre on the second floor of the Frankfort Community Public Library.

“I really welcome the opportunity to address the commissioners,” Eason said. “We want to be a community partner and make a different in the community in a positive manner.”
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