Ready to move forward

November 11, 2018

As crowded and contentious as some of the public hearings and discussions have been in recent months on wind energy, kudos to members of the Madison County Joint Planning Commission — as well as the county’s zoning administrator, Heather McWhorter — for finding a reasonable middle ground on this important issue.

Probably the single biggest issue facing the county was that of establishing setbacks — the minimum distance a wind turbine would be allowed from a home, business or other non-participating structures.

What they ultimate came up with was a figure of 2,200 feet — the length of more than seven football fields. Planning commissioners said they believe it’s a compromise in that it’s far enough away to minimize or eliminate concerns of neighbors but yet workable from an efficiency standpoint by companies seeking to build and operate wind farms in Madison County.

And by settling on that distance, it also puts the turbines far enough away to likely prevent any noise concerns, too.

We find ourselves in agreement with the planning commission in what they’ve come up with in terms of regulations. They undoubtedly aren’t as strict as some wind energy opponents would like, and they’re probably a bit too stringent for those strongly supportive of wind energy. But what’s worth nothing is that it’s a similar setback requirement established in several area counties.

With recent developments in the storage of wind-generated energy, it makes this form of clean energy all the more attractive and cost-efficient.

It’s time for Madison County to be able to take advantage of its naturally strong winds.

It will take time before that happens, of course. Studies have to be done; permits have to be sought; easements have to be secured; and construction needs to take place before Madison County can reap benefits from being part of the growing wind energy movement.

The Madison County joint planning commission is to be commended for making good use of the six-month moratorium it placed on any new wind-related projects. Its members did the research, made visits to existing wind farms, sought out expert opinions, listened to public input and eventually put together a sound set of regulations.

Now it’s time to start moving forward.

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