Editorial: Pritzker’s windmill flip will be a flop in much of Illinois
If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Champaign News-Gazette. January 29, 2023.
Saying one thing and doing another.
State officials frequently say they support allowing local officials to make decisions on controversial issues.
And they often do, right up to the point where local officials take positions their “betters” do not share. That’s when support for local authority comes to a screeching halt.
Take the issue of wind farms. State officials like Gov. J.B. Pritzker favor them, but many local officials do not, because their constituents do not like them or want to be near them.
In 2019, the governor signed legislation giving counties and municipalities the authority to establish standards to develop wind farms in Illinois.
Last year, when he was running for re-election, Pritzker specifically rejected the idea of creating statewide controls over the siting of wind and solar projects, saying that he had “specifically avoided that” approach.
With his re-election safely behind him, Pritzker is now ready to give the go-ahead to legislation — H.B. 4412 — passed in the recent lame-duck session of the outgoing legislature that bars counties from banning the projects.
The Illinois Farm Bureau and 70 counties oppose the legislation, which creates a commission that will oversee and approve wind farms statewide except for Chicago.
Nuclear power and coal provide much of the state’s energy supply, roughly 70 percent, while wind energy provides about 10 percent. Wind energy supporters contend it’s one of the solutions to the problem of clean energy.
But many backers of these projects probably are just as enamored of the vast government financial incentives designed to encourage the growth of the industry.
Legislators who support the change viewed some counties’ reluctance to embrace wind farms as an affront. One Democrat said their actions undermine our “climate, jobs and justice goals secured in our nation-leading climate bill.”
Another support heaped scathing criticism on counties unwilling to host wind farms, claiming they were victims of “radical misinformation campaigns” carried out by “out-of-state fear mongers.”
That’s an interesting way to dismiss those who fear the presence of large, noisy, bird-killing windmills will have a negative impact on their quality of life.
There is nothing inherently wrong with allowing those who will have to live with a project like windmill farms to have an effective say about where they are located. One might even call that a common-sense approach.
Indeed, the position is so eminently reasonable that the governor once enthusiastically embraced the concept. Of course, that was before the “out-of-state fearmongers” poisoned the windmill farm well.
Location of these windmill farms is the issue in places where they aren’t wanted.
But there are larger ones as well. Are wind farms really a realistic option in the search for clean energy?
Those who really want clean energy might consider nuclear power. Instead, zealots are rushing back to the future with windmills while they demonize those who will have to live with the fallout.