Some Iowa counties have passed local zoning ordinances restricting where wind turbines may be placed. Critics say those restrictions would be overruled by the proposed Iowa Utilities Board regulations — because if the board approves a wind farm project, eminent domain authority could be used to convert private property for the public use of renewable energy generation.
Senator Zach Whiting of Spirit Lake, a member of the Iowa Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee, said he has a number of concerns about “the dramatic expansion of eminent domain authority the Utilities Board appears to give itself.”
Private property rights and utility development have been a flash point for lawmakers from both parties for years. In 2006, then-Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed legislation that limited the power of local governments to seize private property for commercial development through the eminent domain process — and 87 percent of the Iowa legislature’s members voted to override that veto.
A year ago, Governor Kim Reynolds said she favored local control and opposed statewide regulation of where wind turbines may be located.