Company: Wind farm has benefits for county

A representative from the company that is investigating the possibility of erecting large windmills in Whitley County says a project built here could benefit the county in several ways.John Doster, Director of Business Development for Wind Capital Group in Chicago, which has an office in Columbia City, said Friday the benefits of his company building in the county would be numerous.“We do have three met (meteorological) towers that are measuring the wind to see if the wind is suitable to make it a potential project area,” Doster said.Several county residents have been approached by representatives of the company who were seeking permission to erect windmills on their land, should the project become a reality.WCG has set up Crossroads Wind, LLC as the wholly-owned division of WCG.The agreements, promise a monetary compensation for the land use and are called Lease and Easement Agreements.The Whitley County Plan Commission is currently studying a proposed ordinance that would regulate the construction and operation of such “wind farms” within the county.At Wednesday night’s meeting of the commission, a host of citizens attended to voice both opposition and support for either the proposed ordinance or the CWG project.“I believe there was some misinformation there,” said Doster, citing a reported figure of 38-40 percent property value loss to neighboring land owners.As far as the proposed Whitley County Wind Ordinance, “that’s really for the county to decide,” Doster said.On its website, Wind Capital Group boasts developing utility-scale wind farm projects all across the central U.S. The company is headquartered in St. Louis.The site says the company has developed wind farms – currently operating or under construction – producing nearly 1,000 megawatts electricity. Doster said if built, a wind farm in Whitley County would produce electricity which would be sold to utility companies.“We would love it if it were a local utility,” said Doster.For residents who showed concern Wednesday about the reliability of wind power, Doster said a particular windmill wouldn’t have to be constantly spinning in order to be effective.He said while one turbine might be inactive when the wind dies down, “the wind is always blowing somewhere.”Each turbine working as part of a collective is what makes the “farm” work, according to Doster.WCG’s website says its current projects “have the potential to produce enough wind energy to power more than 300,000 homes, offsetting more than 1.6 million tons of carbon each year.”“Should our project get built, the benefit (to Whitley County) comes from the increase in the tax base that gets assessed from personal property.”