Diane Fitch is a county supervisor in Madison County, Iowa, who was elected in 2019 on an anti-wind-energy platform. In this episode, Robert talks to Fitch about the ordinance that was approved by county supervisors in December 2020 that effectively bans new wind projects, why wind energy is facing increasing friction in Iowa, the famous bridges in Madison County, and the growing divide between urban Americans and their rural counterparts.

Episode Transcript

Robert Bryce  0:04  

Hi, and welcome to the power hungry podcast. I’m Robert Bryce, the host of this podcast where we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And Today my guest is Diane Fitch, a county supervisor in Madison County, Iowa. Diane, welcome to the power hungry podcast.

Diane Fitch  0:21  

Thank you.

Robert Bryce  0:22  

So Diane, I warned you that I like guests to introduce themselves. Now I’ve told the our listeners you’re a county supervisor. But I’m sure you would maybe like to expand on that a little bit. If imagine you’ve just arrived at a dinner party or a place and you’re sitting down you don’t know anyone at the table. Introduce yourself, please.

Diane Fitch  0:43  

Hi, I’m Diane Fitch. I am a supervisor from Madison County, Iowa like Robert told you. I am a longtime resident of Madison County. I grew up here and married my high school sweetheart. I have three children. My mother still living she still lives in her own home. And she’s here. I worked. I have I’m a longtime government worker. I worked for the Department of Agriculture and land stewardship until I retired. And then I ran for county supervisors. So some as someone said, I’m a very seasoned government worker, but I am not a politician. I’m not very good at politics.

Robert Bryce  1:27  

So and you live in St. Charles, Iowa, is that not correct?

Diane Fitch  1:30  

I live outside of St. Charles. Yes, on an acreage.

Robert Bryce  1:34  

And you’re the CO owner of the Fitch house, which is a bed and breakfast?

Diane Fitch  1:37  

It is yes. Okay.

Robert Bryce  1:39  

So the reason I invited you on the on the on the program, and we’ve talked several times over the last few months. But it’s that Madison County in December passed an ordinance that has include several measures that effectively ban wind projects in Madison County, a county that’s famous for its covered bridges and the Bridges of Madison County. Why did this Why did you there were the vote was a two to one vote by the Board of Supervisors on this new ordinance that of that. Why did you pass this ordinance? And what is it going to do for wind projects in in in the county?

Diane Fitch  2:17  

Well, for the Iran openly honestly opposed to wind turbines, and I want overwhelmingly and for the last night,

Robert Bryce  2:24  

and that was in early 2019. Is that right? Yes, yes, almost right, about two years ago,

Diane Fitch  2:30  

correct. And for the last two years, I have tried to pass anything I could to not let them in because over it’s probably very safe to say over 70% of our constituents do not want them on my side of the county people wouldn’t sign up. So they went away on the west side of the county, they have been fighting them in court for three years now. So it’s safe to say we didn’t want them St. Charles try to put a six mile radius that they couldn’t come into their town, but they don’t have that jurisdiction. So that tells you they didn’t want them. So for two, I was one of the first counties that got the moratorium passed to stop them for a year, although I’ve been out voted on everything. Then when our new supervisor took office early because of a resignation. We passed it within weeks, and we did it with the intent 1.5 miles from a property line with the intent. We don’t want them because our constituents do not.

Robert Bryce  3:35  

So let’s go through if you don’t mind some of the provisions of the ordinance because it is very restrictive for wind projects. You mentioned the 1.5 mile setback. So that’s a 1.5 miles setback the turbines can be located no closer than one and a half miles from non participating landowners homes or property lines, which is awkward property lines. Okay. So as I understand it now, I followed the wind industry for a while that that alone may be enough to halt any kind of new project given the the the fact that these companies like to put these wind turbines in close proximity to each other and have arrays that are contiguous. But that’s not the only one. I’ll ask it this way. What are the other key parts of the ordinance?

Diane Fitch  4:26  

I’m tearing them down, that they have decommission. They have to have lots of notice. So people know that they’re trying to put them in and they have not really done that our first 52 that they put in, no one really understood it or knew it until they’re there. Because they went up they would go around to a person and say I will give you $10,000 it varies apiece for these. The farmers would sign up and then they would approach a neighbor and say, I will give you a good neighbor, Claus give you x amount of dollars. But then there were gag orders in there. So no one really knew that they were going up until they woke up and he had something 400 feet tall on top of their house. Well, then on the other side of the county, when they approached them the same thing, these people are more aware. Now we don’t want these and they’re 500 feet tall, and they are putting some 600 feet. That’s a that’s really tall.

Robert Bryce  5:33  

But all of that you also had a restriction on height limits, right? That was no more than

Diane Fitch  5:38  

500 feet, and lighting. And we’ve added everything lighting I’ve already written policy on when they tear them down, our landfill will take nothing, we won’t take enough to bolt or screw from them. They are not allowed to hold anything to our landfill. And I have two other counties that backed on that. So I don’t know what they’ll do with them.

Robert Bryce  6:00  

So you also eliminate the tax breaks, which I wasn’t aware of that before. And I’m not aware of how all this works. What How did what is the what is the limitation on the tax breaks? What does that do?

Diane Fitch  6:14  

Well, we have 50 to about 51 of them in max burn right now

Robert Bryce  6:19  

51 turbines that are in the county already

Diane Fitch  6:22  

51 turbines. And so they’re valued at $3.7 million now, but they do not start taxing them because of what was allowed until they’re seven years old now. So that’s 3.7 million. And because of that tax break, given by the government, they don’t start paying taxes for five years.

Robert Bryce  6:46  

And so this year, it’s 3.7 million per turban. Yes. Okay, so the overall, if you have 51 turbans, you’re at 3.7. So roughly $200 million in valuation that doesn’t get taxed. Is that is that is that right?

Diane Fitch  7:00  

Yeah, well, this year after the five years will receive $661,860. All right, the taxes due this year would be 16,000 per turbine, with their credits that drops it down to 15,500. And annual income to us of about 800,000. Now since we’ve changed the tax code, the taxing authority, it will be 4,000,003, almost $4,000,400. And if they’re going to come, they’re going to pay for it. Because if you build a new building you’re going to pay. So that’s what we changed, they will no longer receive those tax credits. Because as supervisors if we deem it is no longer beneficial for our constituents, we can do that. And we did that.

Robert Bryce  7:47  

So you’re going to get roughly six times the revenue that you would otherwise and I’ve done the math here. Okay. But the other thing that to me was interesting was the noise limit that you imposed. And I have talked with a number of people about the noise issues and wind turbines. And I know you have a resident of Madison County. Dr. Ben Johnson is an electrophysiologist cardiologists, heart doctor, who has written extensively on this. Why? And so let me let me ask the question this way, in August of 2019, I believe I remember the day correctly, the Madison County Board of Public Health issued a directive on wind turbines and wind turbine noise. What did they say?

Diane Fitch  8:31  

Well, they felt it was maybe detrimental to health. And they worried about the health effects. And so they did vote that we needed to change setbacks to protect non participating people, they did feel it was detrimental. There are just studies all over the world about the health effects of these. It’s just too much infrasound for people and some people that effects greatly. Plus, if you if you go near a house with one there’s a constant shadowing and flickering, this is what you see all day in your house. Can you imagine looking at that all day, and that’s what they that’s what these people are suffering and then the noise levels, it’s some people it doesn’t affect as much as others and they are noisy. The 500 foot ones are a constant wash wash sound. The 400 foot ones I don’t like them but it’s better the 500 foot is a very just a constant noise.

Robert Bryce  9:30  

So why do you we’ve talked several times and I know you’ve we’ve discussed this before but I’m going to ask you again since we’re recording it now and we’re Why do you care so much about this why what is you you clearly even as you talk about it I can sense some anger maybe outrage what why what what is this? What is this touching you? What is it Why is this industry? Why are you so opposed to this, this industry and what they’re doing in Iowa?

Diane Fitch  9:56  

I don’t know that. I’m opposed to give New ideas I’m opposed to giving one person may be more rights than another. If you own 500 acres, and you live in Chicago, which is in my case, everything around me is owned by someone that lives in Chicago. This home has been here since 1857. And he thinks, okay, I want my 10,000 pieces of silver, and he covers this whole land around, I feel that he’s taken away all my rights as a landowner, he doesn’t even live here. And that’s the case in this state. In many cases, I feel I’ve lost my rights. And a lot of the people feel that way I worked for I would apartment but a bit of

Robert Bryce  10:43  

food, if I can interrupt it, there are you don’t you don’t have turbans adjacent to your property right now,

Diane Fitch  10:48  

my side of the county in vent energy went away, because we won’t sign up for them. They couldn’t get sign up.

Robert Bryce  10:55  

So when you’re talking about this issue of neighbors and viewsheds, and so on, that you’re talking about in general that, in general, the property owners who have turbans on their property, are able to get revenue from that, but their neighbors have to deal with the view shed issues, the lights and so on. And that’s the is that fair to say? That’s the equity the inequality that you’re talking about? Here?

Diane Fitch  11:17  

It is, it is because in one area, we have a brother that put three on top of his brother, well, he isn’t living by them, but his brother is I think that’s so it’s really destroyed. A lot of our fabric here, the people have become very angry at each other. They Yes, I don’t want to see that happen. I don’t want to see us torn apart because some big industry has come in offering a lot of money, and then it ruins your neighbor’s quality of life.

Robert Bryce  11:49  

Well, so how much of it is I mean, you have a bed and breakfast. So I mean, you’re directly as I see it, or correct me if I’m wrong. You’re really dependent for some of your livelihood on tourism. So how much of it was the concern? Or the the you and the other supervisor have voted in favor of the ordinance? How much of your concern in Madison County was out of concern for? Excuse me, tourism and the people who come to see the Bridges of Madison County?

Diane Fitch  12:16  

Well, I have to be real honest. I think for me, it did not affect me at all on the tourism on my bed and breakfast, because that is my husband and I that’s our fun job. We don’t need that income, because we have jobs and he is very successful. So I do not. I didn’t feel that. But I think the beauty of this county is outstanding. We are such a diverse county with a lot of native timber. We have a tremendous amount of wildlife. We are close proximity to bigger cities like Des Moines. So people want to come out here because it’s beautiful. And we are really close knit friendly. And I think we are losing that the turbines, we’ll have people call to the supervisors and say, may we do a photoshoot for Harley Davidson with motorcycles by one of your bridges? Absolutely. When you put a turbine over it, no one’s going to come? Because they’re awful. And they look awful, and it ruins your picture. So I don’t want to see that for us. And we’re just too populated to put them all over.

Robert Bryce  13:30  

You know, I’ve talked to people across the country. I’ve talked to people in Hawaii, I’ve talked to people in Maine, some in California. And your reaction to many is very similar to other people who’ve fought wind projects, in that they feel like it’s an encroachment on their property and encroachment on their ways of life. Why are they sick? But But you’re I mean, when you look at polls, you look at public opinion polls. Wind Energy is extraordinarily popular. Solar is more popular than wind. People love solar energy, but they also love the approval rating something like 6070 70% what do people get wrong about the wind business? Right? If they’re if you’re what you’re telling me is not what’s the common refrain among people who are promoters of renewable energy? What is the general public missing here? When it comes to wind energy?

Diane Fitch  14:24  

I think it’s an ignorance and a lack of really study what it means. If Iowa is a hugely agricultural state, we’re a very small state. We’re east to west 300 miles north to south about 300 miles. We’re small yet we raise a quarter of the world’s food. And I have Bed and Breakfast guests from all over the world. I had someone from New York that could not figure out that the chick ate they were eating came out of my chicken house.

Robert Bryce  14:58  

Wait a minute, maybe Eggs come from chickens that What do you mean?

Diane Fitch  15:02  

You can laugh about that it is not true. People are very disconnected and working for idols for 22 years, the disconnect is huge. People really don’t have a grasp on that somebody raised that. And I think that concerns me that you’re putting a turbine with a 45 year easement on the whole track of land. For a turbine, that isn’t green energy, because it takes so many rare earth metals to use to build one 550 tonnes of steel, what are you going to do with them when they don’t work? All of that is I think, people it sounds good, it feels good. You have little Swedish girls saying how we’re destroying the earth, and people buy into that. But they’re not thinking enough down the line. We know we have enough coal for 500 years, and we know we can burn clean coal, and the rest of the world bleep burns coal.

So you think they’re gonna stop? They’re not these turbines won’t work. 32% of the time, this state, we have no wind today. And we have zero sun. There’s it’s a miserable day here. So they aren’t going to work. But it sounds good. And it feels good. So does recycling sounds good. And it makes you feel good. Our landfill loses $30,000 a year on recycling because people throw dirty garbage in it, we have to sort it out. And it ends up in the trash anyway. So I think it’s a lack of knowledge and studying. And doesn’t it make you afraid that this might be a land grab 45 years of why would they need an easement for 45 years on the most productive ground in the world?

Robert Bryce  16:53  

So let me ask you about the specific project that is emailed and got a reply from mid American energy. They are the company that is developing the arbor Hill project, which would include 52 turbines in Madison County. But that project according to mid American now, because of your new ordinance, it appears it’s been stopped. What do you mean American is part of Berkshire Hathaway and which is controlled obviously by by Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world. If you were talking to Warren Buffett, imagine, you know, I haven’t done this on the podcast before. But imagine you’re I’m Warren Buffett, what would you tell me?

Diane Fitch  17:34  

Well, I would say I congratulate you, Warren Buffett for using the government to do your bidding, I congratulate you, you held out your hand and they filled it with money, you’re playing the game and you’re doing it very well. You fully admitted you would never put up wind turbines because it’s not cost effective. But with the tax production credits, and all the incentives you receive, you can get 52 of them up turn their blades by December 121. And you make $20 million for your shareholders way to play the game, Mister, you’re doing a great job he is. He’s just playing the game and the government’s helping him.

Robert Bryce  18:14  

Well, you’re referring I believe to I think it was 2014 when Buffett said famously the there’s no reason to put up wind turbines except to get the tax credits. That was

Diane Fitch  18:24  

exactly and

Robert Bryce  18:25  

yet the Des Moines Register as I found a clip from 2018. That said, at that point, mid American was planning to spend 12 billion on wind energy in Iowa and also expected to collect $10 billion in tax credits, which is really, I mean, that’s a pretty rare if you can get I mean, I’d love to get that deal. Right. If I get enough tax credits nearly pay for my entire capital outline outlay. that’s a that’s a good deal. So what is as mid American been straightforward with you or were straightforward with the county in terms of how they’re approaching this and what they what they’re telling the county about the about the project?

Diane Fitch  19:04  

Well, I think yeah, I think they have been straightforward. I don’t think they’ve ever really lied. I think people just don’t pay attention, that they’re really paying for these and getting their money back. And in essence, because they’re using taxpayers money to put them up, and then they don’t pay taxes with the tax credits. So I don’t think they’ve lied about that. And their CEO went on the radio, they haven’t lied. They put their hand out, somebody put money in it, and I think it’s natural to take it but I don’t think they’ve lied. I think the salesmen when they come to your door, they might, they aren’t going to tell you anything negative, they just want to get you to sign up. It is your due diligence to figure it out. And many of these people have not and there is a lot of regret on the west side of the county for signing up because now they realize kind of what they’ve done and they have to live under them. So I don’t blame it America, I believe Politicians for taking taxpayers money and giving it out to multibillion dollar corporations. I don’t blame the corporations. I think it’s politicians. And that’s our fault, because we both the same ones in for 50 years.

Robert Bryce  20:17  

So what about Charles Grassley? he famously said as well, I believe it was in 2015, when the production tax credit was supposed to be phased out there, they made an agreement to phase out the production tax credit. He said, this was never meant to be permanent. And and Grassley was one of the original authors of the production tax credit in 1992. I think he’s your home state senator. And he’s

Diane Fitch  20:40  

made it permanent, hasn’t he? He just keeps giving more and more and more, because he knows they can’t make it without our money. They aren’t cost effective. So he just keeps giving us more of our money.

Robert Bryce  20:53  

So have you talked to politicians and other in other or other elected officials and other counties, other states about wind? And if so, what have they told you?

Diane Fitch  21:02  

Well, I’ve met with the governor. I’ve met with a lot of them. And I wrote Grassley a letter the other day and told him, I think it was time he maybe retired.

Robert Bryce  21:12  

Have you heard back? No, I

Diane Fitch  21:15  

will, I’m sure. And I’ve met him numerous times, I’ll have no trouble telling him it’s time to retire. As a person who worked for government for years, I think it’s easy to get embedded into what a group of you 585 guys in Washington think. And then you lose touch of what the people think I haven’t done that. I live here. I listen to my people, and, and I really care about them. I don’t necessarily care about politics. I don’t care about big business. It’s not bringing us jobs. It’s not bringing us anything. It’s destroying our bridges and roads. And I’m afraid that politicians have forgotten who they work for. And the people in this county do not want them. And that’s why we’ve made it virtually impossible for them to come. Do I think they’ll kick back? Yes, probably.

Robert Bryce  22:15  

So you’ve been now in office for two years, will you? How long is your term?

Unknown Speaker  22:20  


Robert Bryce  22:22  

Sir, you have roughly two more years in office. But it was this really what you read? You ran on? I know, you ran on anti win platform. Was this your your issue? The one issue that got you elected?

Diane Fitch  22:36  

Um, probably not. I had worked for idols for 22 years. And

Robert Bryce  22:43  

dolls forgive eyes,

Diane Fitch  22:44  

I’m sorry, is I would Department of Agriculture and land stewardship, and that is housed in the Natural Resource Conservation Service. So I worked for the state in a federal office. And we had a very, very successful office. I worked for the hospital before that, and I was fire and rescue. So I knew a lot of people. My husband is a wrestling coach. And we grew up here. So I knew, you know, every kid and their grandparents. So that probably helped me get elected. I’m mom, they would say truthfully, honest to a fault.

Robert Bryce  23:22  

Maybe a little too blunt for your own good.

Diane Fitch  23:24  

That’s Yeah, I think that’s absolutely true.

Robert Bryce  23:29  

Okay, let me, let me let me ask you something else, because that to me was one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on is that I mean, we’ve talked several times. And I wanted to make sure in the podcast that I have regular, just ordinary people, people that don’t have fancy degrees didn’t go to fancy universities, that regular people to talk about what’s really going on in terms of what’s happening on the ground. To me, it’s significant, or I’ll ask you this way. How significant is it that Madison County in a state like Iowa that has been among the wind friendliest states in America yet 42% of the electricity in the in the state was was generated by wind in 2019. How significant is it that now Madison County, along with a dare county have both effectively banned wind projects? How significant is that now, given that the incoming Biden ministration has plans to put in 60,000 turbans within just five years?

Diane Fitch  24:27  

I think the push backs going to be terrible. I think you’re going to find people are, I believe a lot of Midwestern states because we’re called the flyover states and, and if you go out west, they’ll say, oh, you’re the state with potatoes, or some of my guests for sale,

Robert Bryce  24:47  

or corn or pigs or whatever, when

Diane Fitch  24:49  

we do have more pigs than people so I and we do raise more eggs in the second third state combined and we do have if you go Northern Iowa, it’s like oceans of corn. It’s all you see for miles and miles and then you smell the pigs. So because it’s it’s stinky, but we do have that, and I think there’s a I guess I forgotten your question and kind of ramble how

Robert Bryce  25:14  

significant is it that that the that this backlash is happening in Iowa, the state that has more produces more electricity from wind as a percentage of its use than any other state? How significant is that?

Diane Fitch  25:26  

I think very significant because we’re waking up and realizing the electricity isn’t staying here, our prices haven’t dropped. It’s going to Minneapolis to Chicago and other six cities. And I think we’re starting to wake up. Now when you go to Northern I Well, I don’t find them as intrusive and obnoxious because a farmer up there might own 300,000 acres, and they’re not clustered like they are here. A dare County. It’s just awful. It’s all you can see now that they are littered with them. I think they have over 500 it’s just awful. I’m not sure if that number is correct. It’s a lot.

Robert Bryce  26:05  

I think it is I found a news clip that said that in I think it was December, November, December of 2019, eight air county passed an ordinance that limited the number of turbans in the county of 535. And the county at that time had 532. So that’s effectively a ban saying we’re not going to take any more. But I think it’s also interesting, I’d asked you about the significance because I see a number of academic studies that come out and say, Oh, well week, of course, you know, renewables are cheaper now, and we could just put them out there, like in flyover country. So my question is this, you broach we broached on it before. But how much of this politics around renewable energy in your in your view, is due to this urban rural divide this idea that Oh, we’ll just put it out there, all the stuff. We’ll just put it out there in flyover country. I mean, we saw this even in the election, right, that Republicans are generally in the rural areas, Democrats overwhelmingly in the cities. How much is this about the the the geographic divide that also is the political divide?

Diane Fitch  27:10  

Oh, huge percentage of it is, I think they even refer to some of us, my side of the counties, the hillbilly side. Um, yet you you go into the states like Iowa, we’re very educated, we have higher incomes, just because you’re a farmer, or you hunt doesn’t mean you’re a hillbilly, but I think it’s it’s tremendous. You’re even seeing it in this state. It’s going it’s rapidly coming to the point where all of us will not be able to out vote Des Moines and Iowa City. And I think you’re seeing that in the whole nation. I think you’re right, it is. We seem to be discarded. I worried that we’re going to be some come the SERPs to to support big cities, because cities, big cities are reliant on government for survival. We aren’t. I have my own water source. I have we raised a lot of our own food, we aren’t Reliant and most people in this state could survive quite easily without government. I think the divide is there. I think it’s getting deeper and deeper. And that’s terribly unfortunate.

Robert Bryce  28:24  

I know that Madison County, I looked it up voted something over 60% for Trump and only about 30 some odd percent for Biden. How much I mean, this is a maybe a little bit off the off the subject here at hand. But how much of you think Trump’s support in rural Iowa and other rural areas was simply a reflection of what you just said this idea that Oh, we’re not being listened to? We’re being discarded that government doesn’t pay attention to us? Is that how big of a role did that play? Do you think in Trump’s in Trump’s support?

Diane Fitch  28:59  

a huge role? I think it’s it’s probably about 100% in this rural area that he would say no, not all of us like how we spoke we don’t like we’re not mean I Windsor are so kind and we wouldn’t talk mean or call people names. And I none of us like that. That was cringe worthy when he does that. But he did talk about freedom and independence and, and not the government in every aspect of your life. And people out here in Madison County. We are so resilient and there isn’t much we can’t do. If you need a building built. We build it. There. there’s so little if you need a plumber, there’s just people here that can do everything. Now my daughter’s married city boys. Thank

Robert Bryce  29:54  

you say that with just a little disgust there.

Unknown Speaker  29:59  

Well, one of them Do they

Robert Bryce  30:00  

know how you feel about him? He called him city boys.

Diane Fitch  30:04  

Well, the one of them said, Yeah, I call him a metrosexual I do with this $500 pair of shoes in his $1,000 suit, and he had to ask me what the difference between a horseweed and an era corn was. So, and I love him to death, but He’s, uh, probably wouldn’t know what a hammer and a screwdriver. So I teased him. But he earns a really lot of money. And he’s a great guy, but there is a difference. And he will constantly say, Well, I can’t do it, but your mom and dad can. So So we’ve we’ve got this wonderful love and mutual admiration for each other. But I think that’s kind of what a lot of this country has become the the cities and the rule. And you’re seeing it unfortunately, everywhere, this horrible divide. And I I’m not sure we don’t see it here so much. Because we’re still so kind and I write an article every two weeks. And I tell us, we have to stick together, we need each other. And we cannot do this. And we don’t seem to. We are predominantly republican County. But we have barbecues and with the Democrats, we have never, we don’t have that division. And I’m going to try not to ever let that happen.

Robert Bryce  31:26  

So one of the things that I’m talking to you about where you’re at in your business and kind of your history with this, it sounds like you You were reluctant politician, right, that this wasn’t something that you dreamed of or thought about. But But you but it was at the wind debate that forced you or really made you decide the well on the subject I have to do?

Diane Fitch  31:51  

No, I think it was people saying yes, probably people saying you need to save our county. For many, many years, we have had supervisors that have come from only one city, the city of winterset. And so many of us feel very unrepresented. That that we never have really been represented. And I think that might somewhat be true. And now that I’ve been in there two years, I believe that it is they aren’t represented much and and the representatives

Robert Bryce  32:23  

of the county weren’t really representatives of the rural residents as much not so much the more the more city or town based people.

Diane Fitch  32:32  

When I was when I first ran and I was going to door knock on everybody’s door. A couple of the sitting supervisors said, you know, don’t waste your time knocking on rural doors. They don’t vote and they don’t matter. I got in the car and cried because I’m rural by

Robert Bryce  32:51  

they told you that.

Unknown Speaker  32:52  

Yeah, don’t bother

Robert Bryce  32:55  

me, because but you persisted.

Diane Fitch  32:58  

Oh, that made me mad. So I dig in my heels. And I think I said to myself, I’m going to knock on every rural door in this county. And it was frightening. I knocked on some f doors and because we’re pretty rural, and some of it wasn’t great. And there are people that it was a little frightening but and I did have a we carry the roll vote. But I did carry the city of this town of St. Charles, I think everybody and their dog voted for me so

Robert Bryce  33:27  

so my guest I’m just a quick station break here is Diane Fitch. She is a county supervisor in Madison County, Iowa, which just passed an ordinance in December that effectively bans wind projects. And as I recall, given the setbacks, the height limits and the other things that you included, you said this is going to stop wind projects cold, I believe I’m quoting you directly. So I don’t you know, we’ve covered a lot of ground already. And I don’t want to you know, belabor these points. But one of the one of the other a couple of last questions that I like to ask all my guests, and now that you’re in politics, you know, people are busy and but nevertheless What are you reading? Are you your fiction reader, your nonfiction reader, who do you’d like to read?

Diane Fitch  34:16  

Or what I like to read? Oh, I love to read and I love to sell and I love to cook and I bake? I’m the kind of the county Mom, I bake for all the departments. If you need your pants him you can bring them to me.

Unknown Speaker  34:29  


Robert Bryce  34:30  

it’s a long way from Austin but I appreciate the offer but my wife speaking of sewing did make an apron out of out of an old shirt. In fact, that looks a lot like this fabric right here. But anyway, yes, sewing is kind of a lost art. But what are you reading?

Diane Fitch  34:44  

I read. I love Robert Parker. I like I read your book.

Robert Bryce  34:50  

I will thank you a question of power by the way. There you go. There it is. There’s I didn’t ask you for the plug but then you Robert Parker’s name is familiar. I forget what does he write? I forget

Diane Fitch  35:00  

I’m Spencer for hire and Jesse stone and the police novels.

Robert Bryce  35:05  

Oh, the police. No, okay. Yeah. All right.

Diane Fitch  35:07  

Um, I read about anything. I’ve been reading old classics again. But just because I had forgotten

Robert Bryce  35:15  

literature, what do you mean by classic

Diane Fitch  35:17  

To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Women because now I have granddaughters getting a bad age. So I bought one of them Pride and Prejudice for Christmas, which I love and To Kill a Mockingbird. And I gave one of them Little Women, just because I tried to read them again before I give them to him. So we can have book report.

Robert Bryce  35:37  

Gotcha. And I meant to ask you this before, and we talked about it before we started recording. So what do you want people to do? I mean, you’ve you’ve now spent the last couple of years of your life and I know that I think we even talked maybe before you were elected, or I mean, it’s been I’ve been in touch with people in Madison County for some time, Mary job’s done some other people. What do you hope that people do? What’s your call to action? If you if you are listening, you know, talking to all these people that are going to many millions 1000s upon 1000s of people who listen to my podcast, exaggerating. What do you want them to do? What’s your call to action?

Diane Fitch  36:12  

I want people I think in this country, politicians and the media have perfected the skill of wine. And I think they’ve in institutionalized the destruction of public ethics by elevating deceit, and they refer to it as spin. I think it’s no longer the lie that matters, but the quantitative fashion in which they tell it. And and I think Americans have got to start researching and paying attention and holding politicians accountable. And they don’t they keep voting them in over and over and over. And then they complain about them. Yet none of them are involved. My husband walk every day, he’ll say, Well, I elected you to do the heavy lifting. Well, thanks a lot. I mean, so you don’t show up.

Robert Bryce  37:05  

You’re getting heckled at home as well as down.

Diane Fitch  37:09  

And if we talk about that is this at work, it’s become open game on politicians, you can be extremely cruel, and call them and call them names, yet you never show up for anything, and you don’t do anything. You just complain. I think that’s real unfair to elect somebody and then never be involved.

Robert Bryce  37:31  

So your your call to action, if I’m going to paraphrase would be to get people to get involved and to pay attention to what’s going on in politics.

Diane Fitch  37:40  

And it should never be violent. It should never be in a destructive manner. We can speak to one another like we used to, with open kindness and listen to one another. Now we don’t we don’t feel that much here. And if you’re mean, here, we simply have you thrown out. We just don’t tolerate nasty behavior. I don’t. I had one man start to cuss. I just said, Stop talking. I just don’t tolerate it. So we’re pretty civil. But the nation has got to stop this. We have to pay attention. And we talk we need term limits. We need term limits quick voting for them.

Robert Bryce  38:22  

So then what would you say to people in the city that that are supportive of wind energy? What would you say to them?

Diane Fitch  38:28  

come and live under one? Common live under it prove to me that they’re beneficial? How is it going to work today, when it’s not even there’s no wind at all. There’s one in winterset that they put up, it’s cautious oil out of the bottom of it, the oil is just gushing out of it. It’s never really worked. The county wants to buy that piece of land to build a new emfs building emergency medical system building. And we won’t but we won’t sign the paper until they remove that turbine. You think it’s been removed yet? No. It’s so expensive to remove them. What do you do with all the parts? Nobody wants them? I’ve written policy so our landfill won’t take them. So I don’t know what they’re gonna do with it. So um,

Robert Bryce  39:15  

she mentioned that it’s interesting that you mentioned that because I’ve followed, you know, fairly closely what’s going on in in Iowa. And you have the town of fair bank that forced the the owner to remove three turbans that had already been put up. I mean, that that in itself is pretty remarkable. And then you have the another instance where in 2017, the legislature in Iowa prohibited the use of eminent domain for high voltage transmission. So it seems that Iowa, I mean, other states are having a lot of conflicts, land use conflicts, but in terms of land use conflicts around wind, Iowa seems to be having as many as any other state in the country.

Diane Fitch  39:51  

We are even though we we brag about how much how many turbans we have and how green we are, we’re green because of the corn, we’re not green because of those, Harvey

Robert Bryce  40:04  

because of the corn not because of the wind. Durbin’s

Diane Fitch  40:07  

Yes, exactly. Well, it’s

Robert Bryce  40:09  


Diane Fitch  40:12  

Because in the in the summer, this is the most Green State you’ve ever been in. It’s an ocean of green. It’s gorgeous. Hardin County took my ordinance and they have they’re being sued now to Hardin County is fighting very strong against these many counties are, you just don’t hear it. Wind is really, really good at keeping it out of the news. But there is a lot of animosity and anger against these, you just aren’t hearing it. They’re very, very good at not getting anything negative out there. Although when we put the moratorium on there, that hit the news. But really probably Yes, it did. Because, Yeah, go ahead.

Robert Bryce  40:56  

So last last question. And I said I was wrapping up earlier. But I things occurred to me. So you’ve been at this for a while. And I’ll follow up on heart and county because I wasn’t familiar with what’s going on there. I know Paige County, and I was also having some some controversy as well. So amidst all this, we’ve talked about a lot of things that are negative, what gives you hope?

Diane Fitch  41:18  

Well, the American people, I think we’re resilient. I think we’re I think we probably need a spiritual revival, I think we’ve gotten very ungrateful and very ungracious. Um, you turn on the news, and all you hear about is how bad we are. We’re not if we were so bad people would be leaving. But if they open the borders, it will be unbelievable. It’ll just be everybody in the world that wants to live here. I think we’re an amazing country. And I think for the most part, we’re pretty wonderful. And I see that in this state. We’re so decent and kind and America has done really good things for the world. Do we make mistakes? Absolutely, we do. But we have become so ungrateful. We’re complaining all the time about how bad it is. We have the richest poor in the world. And we are never we just do. We don’t walk eight miles to get water. We just don’t have any of that. And if you’re poor in this state, it’s because you’re you have poor ways are you’re not real bright, because there are jobs everywhere. And you if you work, you could get ahead. So I think that’s mostly this country. And I think the American Dream is still here. And I’m tired of the media telling us how rotten we are. We’re not and we can’t add a nation. We can not forget that. And if we’d stop this bickering over nonsense, it would be fine.

Robert Bryce  42:51  

Good speech. I’m glad to get that. My guest again, Dianne Fitch, you’ve said it. Well, I unless you have other things to add. I’m gonna go ahead and call it to a close. Thanks to my guest, Diane Fitch. You can. Obviously I’ve watched you’ve watched the film The Bridges of Madison County, I’m assuming Yes. Well, if you want to see Madison County, you can watch the movie. Oh, you haven’t watched it?

Diane Fitch  43:21  

I watched it. But I had a hard time watching a movie where she got off the tractor to answer the phone. I’ve never been able to hear the phone when I was on the tractor. Now my cell phone would buzz so I would know it but not my house phone. I couldn’t hear it on the drums. And then they had a big round bales in the field. They didn’t have big round bales. And the movie was not my fav but everybody else loves it. So I’m glad.

Robert Bryce  43:50  

Many thanks to my guest Diane Fitch county supervisor in Madison County, Iowa. You can look up Madison County in the Bridges of Madison County. If you want more there, you can also find their ordinance. I believe it’s on the county website. It’s a little difficult to find. But I think it’s there. Which is really I think a landmark in terms of the history of the in the continuing battle on land use conflicts around renewable energy. So, Diane, many thanks for your time today. And thanks to all of you in podcast land for tuning in to the power hungry podcast. If you like this show, give us a positive rating on your on your favorite podcast platform stitcher or whatever. And tune in for the next edition of the power hungry podcast. Thanks a lot.

Diane Fitch  44:34  

Thank you. Thanks for having me, Robert.

Thank you.

Unknown Speaker  44:37  

You bet.

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