Dear Editor,
The Chamber of Commerce has come out in full support of Apex Roaming Bison's proposed industrial wind turbine project in Montgomery County. However, there are a few items that should be brought to light in regards to Apex as a local business. First of all, the commissioners have not approved their project proposal. Although Apex has been trying to convince the commissioners to sign an Economic Development Agreement for almost a year now, their proposal was denied in September. There have been no building permits for tower construction. Further, they may never be able to agree upon Apex's terms. In Ford County IL this year, Apex was asked to provide a simple letter of credit, which they were not able to produce. To consider Apex a Montgomery County Indiana business is not only inaccurate, it is also dangerous. When the commissioners first began to listen to local residents and discussed amending the 2009 wind ordinance, Apex immediately countered. Their response was for the commissioners to pay attention to what Apex wants, because they have invested too much in this community to walk away now. This was relayed by the commissioners to the no wind crowd as a threat of a lawsuit against the county.
The benefits of wind development to the local community have been grossly overrated by Apex and its supporters at the Chamber. Wind turbine development has proven to be associated with a decline in school enrollment in White and Benton counties, and thus a decline in school funding. There is a direct negative impact of wind turbine facilities upon business and industry. For proof, one need not look farther than the county's own wind ordinance from 2009. It states: "WHEREAS, the construction of wind farms could limit certain types of development within proximity of the wind farms for other commercial/industrial purposes that could also create new jobs in the County." When our commissioners began looking into wind development in 2009, they advised that wind farms could stunt other businesses and local job growth in our community. Why then would the Chamber be so supportive of one business expected to negatively impact other local industry?
A look at just a few of the businesses outside of the city limits shows that many locally owned businesses in the wind turbine development areas are ag or ag-related. These businesses will be next door to turbines, and will feel their impact more so than other businesses. I already know personally of a few businesses who have put their plans for expansion on hold as they await the fate of industrial wind power plants in our area. With Montgomery county leading the state in agriculture, why would the Chamber support a business which would undermine an industry which is already thriving? The Chamber should be listening to the local community, which has spoken its disregard for wind turbine power plants, and seems to understand that in terms of economic growth, wind is only a means to shoot ourselves in the foot.
The Chamber supported a "job fair" for Apex Roaming Bison this month. Yet other Indiana wind developments have provided few job opportunities. Former Tipton county commissioner Jane Harper reported last year that no one in her county was qualified for the few permanent jobs with the wind project there, and that the 200 “local” temporary jobs were given to union workers 50 miles away. Part of the Economic Development Agreement proposed by Apex includes labeling townships as rural ghettos, or ERA's. Fortunately, our county council wants to change this. There is a meeting on December 18th at 7:00 pm at the Crawfordsville library to discuss the ERA which was placed on Madison and Sugar Creek townships. This designation was made at the request of Akuo Sugar Creek wind in 2013. While the council is expected to rescind the ERA for Madison and Coal Creek, if the commissioners sign an agreement with Apex Roaming Bison, Apex will want the tax abatement gifted to them in an ERA. If you live in Coal Creek, Wayne, or Ripley townships, the Umbaugh report from March 2018 projects 120 wind turbines for your areas, and you might be next in getting an ERA. Please attend this meeting to express your opposition to local wind farms, and the discord and unfair practices like the ERA that they bring.
Tisha Southwood,