Public reactions to Paw Paw area wind farm

After visiting the wind farm being built near Paw Paw, we decided to investigate public opinion about it. So, we asked people whom we met on the street and in stores what they thought of it. We recognize that this is a man-on-the-street, available sample technique, and wouldn’t even attempt to guess the sampling error. We briefly interviewed six individuals (and three who were simply with the interviewees). Although there were some negative comments, the results were surprisingly positive. Appearance was mentioned by four of those interviewed. One was enthusiastically positive: “I think they look cool. They’re technology. I like technology. It excites me!” A supporter of the project commented that the windmills in Europe are much bigger. One of the three who commented on seeing it from home didn’t like their appearance: “I don’t like the visual aspects of it; I see it out of my back door.” Another person who saw the windmills from the back door felt that “They’re OK; they’re a lot better than a nuclear power plant. It’s changed the view; it’s taking me a while to get used to them. But compared to cell towers and power lines already there, they don’t look any worse.” One related the story of another person who complained about the lights, but lives behind an elevator and can’t see them. Conflicting views regarding noise were given. Only one person had heard concerns about noise and killing birds. Another commented that a co-worker lives across the street from them and didn’t mind them. “They’re quiet,” was the comment. Several people compared the windmills favorably to other energy sources. One felt that they’re better than coal. Two preferred the wind farm to a nuclear power plant, one relating tales told by former power plant workers to support his contentions. Two people immediately mentioned the benefit to the local tax base, especially school budget. “I think it’s great—we can really use it here.” Perhaps the most enthusiastic endorsement was, “They’re the best thing since sliced bread!” Several negative views were voiced. One person was concerned about hiring workers from Texas and other places while “there are plenty of people here who are qualified and need the work.” We had just asked someone crossing the street what he thought of the wind farm. “Just another windmill.” He was from Texas—hired to work on the project. One jokingly commented, “I call it an ice tosser.” How well informed are people on the issue? One interviewee commented that “There’s a lot of controversy on both sides,” and admitted, “I’m sort of in the middle. I don’t know enough about it. That’s my fault. I didn’t think it would affect me—they’re not on my land.” One worried what would happen to the owners of the land: Would farmers have to take the towers down if they didn’t work? Could they sell the land with these structures on it? Nearly two-thirds of the comments were positive and one-third negative; some were neither. After voicing their views, do local residents have any suggestions for the wind farm developers? How about placing the wind farm “right down the center of I-39”?

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!