Renew Missouri is urging the Boone County government to reject proposed wind ordinances that it says would effectively prohibit turbines in the area.
The Columbia-based clean energy policy group is opposed to a proposal drafted by the county’s Office of Research Management outlining regulations and procedures for companies operating wind farms within the county limit. James Owen, Renew Missouri’s executive director, said the restrictions would essentially ban wind turbines in the county.
“This appears to be designed to look like a reasonable restriction when it is in fact an attempt to prevent wind turbines in this county — a county that says it’s all for clean energy and a city that implements an aggressive climate action plan,” Owen told The Missouri Times.
Owen said the ordinances would restrict the operation of wind farms within 1,750 feet of residential property, stifling possible economic benefit for the county and property owners alike. According to Owen, nearby Adair County expected more than $32 million in revenue from wind turbines over the next 20 years while farmers benefited financially from the projects as well. Ameren Missouri is investing in wind farms across the state as well, creating additional jobs and substantial investments in clean energy.
“We’re not saying you can’t have restrictions or ordinances but have something that could allow development to happen,” he said. “It’s not just the tax revenue that would come into this county; there are farmers who are wanting to lease this property to potential companies. There’s a real economic benefit here to the county and the tax base, and I think that’s being ignored by these people who think we can’t use that money.”
Owen noted farmers and local schools faced economic hardships over the last year, with some districts moving to four-day school weeks due to a lack of funding. Owen said the revenue from wind farms could bolster the county’s infrastructure, a mechanism other communities are encouraging.
“From the way this reads to us, it is designed to ensure it never gets done here,” he said. “When you look at other counties that are doing this, you are seeing the potential to bring in millions of dollars in property tax revenue over the next 20 to 30 years that could fund roads, bridges, schools — other counties not only allow these projects, they have economic enterprise zones that encourage them.”
The Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission is conducting public hearings over the proposal Thursday. Two more hearings are scheduled for later this month.