WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Iowa - Norway Township in the northeast corner of Winnebago County is a pristine, quiet area dotted by snow-covered farm fields. But critics say that the Worthwhile wind and solar farm project will change that.
"The developers approached my own family. They were interested in my family's property for easements for wind turbines and solar panel construction."
Matt Helgeson lives in the area of the projected site, which is planned to be located between Lake Mills and the Minnesota state line, and from the Winnebago River into part of Worth County. He's reached out to neighbors, as well as those who live near similar projects in the Midwest, who have raised health, environmental and quality of life concerns.
"Some folks who do experience a degree of annoyance and health problems and others who don't. It seems like it depends on the size of the turbines and the lay of the land."
He spearheaded a petition asking the county board of supervisors to put a pause on the project and make changes, including tighter setback restrictions and noise limits. Helgeson adds that he's not opposed to utilizing alternative energy sources, but wants the concerns of residents addressed.
"We need to do this with considerations of citizens. The inconsiderate placement of wind turbines over large swaths of Iowa and other Midwestern states...if the end result is a lot of unhappy, rural citizens, it's not a success in my mind."
The board of supervisors is expected to provide an update on the project next month.