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Wind Energy Isn’t a Breeze

Nearly 175 years ago, Lana Wanders’ ancestors settled in what would soon become the state of Iowa. The farm served as a stopping point for people heading west who had run out of money. Her forefathers would rent a piece of land to them for up to five years, so they could farm and earn a living to pay for their continued journey. “It was a handshake agreement,” she says while we sit on the porch of her classic white farmhouse, tucked just off a sloping gravel road between Pella and New Sharon in the southeast part of the state.

But the land deals in this area today aren’t so straightforward and honest, she says. Wind development company RPM Access is currently constructing one of MidAmerican Energy’s newest projects, Prairie Wind Farm, less than two miles east of her home. Residents did not have the opportunity to vote on the project, which was approved by the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors. When residents have no recourse, and no government body to turn to for representation, it’s frustrating and even kind of scary. (MidAmerican Energy declined to comment on this story.) “We have nothing to fight with,” she says. “We don’t know where to go, we don’t know what to do. To us it seems like they just kind of slid in the back door and there’s just nothing we can do about it.”

World Bank

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