Albert Lea City Council Hears Economic Benefits Freeborn Wind Farm

February 09, 2018 07:32 AM

(ABC 6 News) -- Proponents of a controversial wind farm in eastern Freeborn County shared their projections of the project's economic benefits at a work session for the Albert Lea City Council Thursday, but not everyone believes they will profit from the project.

Mariah Lynne, the owner of Good Shepard Consulting, which is working with project developer Invenergy, said at the meeting the project will bring 200 construction jobs and 10 permanent turbine maintenance jobs to the region. Between salaries, payments to landowners and taxes, she said the project would have a $142 million benefit on Freeborn County.


"There's a lot of opportunity that comes not just in the project area, but also in the entire community," she said.

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Ryan Nolander, who also attended the work session, agreed.

"We see the potential for the tax revenue increase for the county for projects," he said. "We also see the opportunity for creating jobs."

Not everyone believes they will see a benefit from the 44-turbine project, including Sue Madson, who lives in the project area between Glenville and Myrtle.

After learning about the project, Madson said she and her husband contacted a local real estate agent who told her it could have a large impact on their property value.

"He told me that he wouldn't be surprised if I would have a $60,000 to $70,000 loss on my home," she said.

In addition to her concerns about land value, Madson said she's concerned about shadow flicker from the turbines, the noise they generate and the possibility of interference with her television signal. She also runs an in-home day care and said the project worries her when it comes to the kids.

While she's not opposed to green energy, she said the impact is too big for only 10 permanent jobs.

Lynne, who lives not far from a completed wind farm project in another part of Freeborn County, said the indirect impact the project will have -- and already has had -- will bring a greater benefit to the region as a whole.

"You've seen my company grow to include five additional people," Lynne said. "I've also seen local printers being used, local restaurants, every time that somebody visits from outside the project area they're staying here at our hotels."

The portion of the Freeborn Wind Farm in Worth County across the state line in Iowa has already been approved. A public meeting is scheduled for February 20 from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Albert Lea National Guard Armory.

If approved, the project could be operational by 2020.

To read more about the wind farm, click here.

Disclosure: ABC 6 has filed comments with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission regarding the Freeborn Wind Farm project to ensure it does not adversely affect viewers' ability to watch our station over-the-air.


Logan Reigstad

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