A backlash against the resolution to seek uses of alternative energy projects and buildings resulted in approval of an addendum by the Floyd County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
Speakers representing Floyd Concerned Citizens touted concerns that the proposed move to alternative renewable energy threatened their freedoms and the way they use their property.
In October, the Board voted unanimously voted to approve a resolution proposed – with changes – by SustainFloyd, Preserve Floyd and other groups and reduce dependence on fossil fuels for projects like school buildings and other ones for the county.
Dan Vest asked: “If you move to solar power, what happens when it doesn’t work at night? What do you do if we have a run of cloudy days?”
Or if the renewable energy sources are wind generators, he asked: “What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?”
Vest said he is one of the “70 percenters” who must drive out of Floyd County each day to earn a living and who depend on vehicles that use fuel that the county appears to be targeting.
He and others asked if the county was planning to force them to use renewable energy sources that are expensive to install and maintain.
Vest also noted that wood is a “renewable” energy source but one that can create some pollution when burned.
Bob Smith said the Board’s unanimous approval of a resolution appeared to the beginning of a move to force property owners to use expensive renewable energy.
He said natural gas and propane gas are abundant energy sources and residents need to have alternatives to provide available energy resources.
Burks Fork Supervisor Joe Turman said he thought “long and hard” before he cast his vote in favor of the resolution and now regrets that vote.
“I wish I could take it back,” he said after saying he had received many complaints from county residents.
Board Chairman Case Clinger said the original resolution was aimed at projects like possible uses of solar power to provide heat for schools and other county projects.
Speaker Bob Smith said it did not read that way.
Clinger said the Board may need to make some changes in language to make sure the public is aware that the resolution is focused on county government projects and not individual property owners and business.
“Clean energy is a good and noble objective,” Smith said, “but forcing county residents to go to 100 percent use of renewable alternatives is something that many here cannot afford.”
Becky Howell of Little River District and Chairman of the County Planning Commission joined the Floyd Concerned Citizens Group presentation, supporting their concerns and said the original resolution was approved without public hearings by the Board.
Billy Weitzenfeld, President of the SustainFloyd Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals, told the Board: “I believe in science and I believe we need renewable energy sources.”
Smith offered three resolutions to the Board: one, an addendum to the existing resolution; and two others with some changes of wording but similar.
Little River Supervisor Linda DeVito Kuchenbuch said, “I would like to see us take more time to read and study these documents,” adding that the Board considered the original resolution over several months.
Turman said he didn’t need more time and called for a vote. Yoder said he had not fully read any of the proposals. Clinger asked for a motion to approve a resolution, noting that approval of a resolution does not make it law and the Board should consider this one and the original resolution working documents.
On the vote, Clinger, Turman and Little River Supervisor Fred Gerald voted for the resolution while Kuchenbuch voted no and Yoder abstained. The votes by Clinger and Gerald were among their final votes Tuesday. Both will be replaced the first of the year. Gerald retired, and Clinger lost his re-election effort.
The resolution says “North America and the United States in particular, has been endowed by God Almighty with a vast abundance of easily, cleanly and inexpensively accessible fossil fuels” and “the policy of the Floyd County government shall be to work for viable, cost-effective, clean and reliable energy resources of all available types and to conduct itself in such a manner as to protect the freedom of Floyd County citizens to continue to have access to traditional and expensive options for the energy needs as they individually desire.”
Later in the meeting, Yoder asked for a new vote on the resolution, saying he had reread the three resolutions and wanted to change his vote from an abstention. The new vote was 4-1 with Kuchenbuch voting “no.”