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Wind developers give cooperation a whirl

By Tom Fetters

The proposed Ledge Wind Farm catches flak from some Brown County residents.

We Energies’ search for Glacier Hills Wind Park easements hits a speed bump in Columbia County.

And the proposed Rothschild biomass plant runs into opposition from its would-be neighbors.

Renewable energy developers slugging it out with residents over project plans could benefit by borrowing from the strategy used by Sarah Rankin Stahl and her dad, John.

Their plan: Seize the initiative.

According to a Daily Journal of Commerce article, when the daughter-and-dad duo decided to develop the 104-megawatt West Butte Wind Power project in Oregon, they did prep work well beyond finding the best spots for turbines.

Anticipating opposition to their plans, the Stahls contacted a prominent local environmental group to see if the developers and the group could work together. As Rankin Stahl was quoted as saying, “Instead of starting out with an adversarial relationship, why not go in and talk to them?”

As a result of the developers reaching out, they struck a compromise with the environmentalists that led to the group’s support for the wind project. As an official of the environmental group was quoted as saying, “Projects like West Butte illustrate that there will always be impacts, but working together there are ways to develop a project with a smaller impact on its surroundings.”

Other developers who try the Stahls’ strategy might also find that resources spent battling project opponents might be better spent trying to make a deal.

Tom Fetters is a copy editor at The Daily Reporter. He finds that “seizing the initiative” works in most social situations.

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