Approximately 100 residents from Cortland, Hallam and surrounding communities met at the Cortland Community Center in January to discuss the proposed development of a wind farm in the area and other related issues at a Wind Information Forum hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs and Lancaster County Farmers Union.
Replacing aging and increasingly inefficient coal plants is one of the most pressing issues in addressing the impacts of climate change for our small towns, farms, and ranches. In the Midwest and Great Plains, retiring coal plants and investing in wind development is a promising and viable option for low-cost energy. It reduces carbon pollution and the dangerous health impacts of coal.
Residents living near coal plants worry about soil and water contamination. They also live with the undeniable health impacts of asthma and increased rates of certain cancers and other respiratory illness.
As we move away from coal and toward wind, concerns arise on how wind turbines will be sited. Though the health and environmental impacts of wind are far less than those of coal, residents have every right to be involved in the process.
Wind farm and turbine siting concerns range from potential impacts on property values to the effect turbines could have on local wildlife. Wind energy generation may have its own health effects for certain sensitive people. These are not yet well known.
There is no cookie-cutter solution for siting new wind turbines. Local communities and landowners have to get involved and ask questions, getting at the details most important to them.
Wind development can bring enormous benefits to rural areas. To succeed, projects must be sited in a way that works for the entire community. Public engagement is a crucial step in planning for a clean and affordable energy future that benefits all of our communities.