Vermilion County board members voted to approve a new ordinance handling the emergence of wind farms locally Tuesday night.
The ordinance, which has been on public display since early December, sets up a number of ground rules for the wind farms, ranging from ranging from road care during the construction of the wind turbines and the buffer zone between the turbines and property to the permit process for a wind farm.
The Paxton City Council concurred with a plan commission recommendation for new city restrictions on where wind turbines can be built outside city limits. Now turbines cannot be put up within half a mile of the city limits on Paxton's northeast side or within one mile of the city's other three sides. Previously, under a Ford County ordinance, turbines could be built as close as 1,500 feet to the city.
The ordinance deals with the issues surrounding the placement of turbines in a wind farm, ranging from road care during the construction of the wind turbines and the buffer zone between the turbines and property to the permit process for a wind farm.
The Bureau County Board has extended the conditional use permits for Crescent Ridge 2 for another 24 months.
The Crescent Ridge 2 developers had requested the extension at the county board's December meeting, but a decision had been tabled at that time.
At Thursday's meeting, the board heard from Princeton attorney Bob Russell, representing Crescent Ridge 2, who explained some of the reasons the extension was needed.
Representatives of Freeport-based EcoEnergy briefed the McDonough County Board's finance committee Wednesday on their desire to locate a $400 million set of wind farms in McDonough and Warren counties.
"We're starting to get interest from local landowners and the wind resource looks pretty good," said Curt Bjurlin of EcoEnergy.
The plan commission on Monday was to have voted on a city council proposal to ban turbines within a half mile of the city limits on Paxton's northeast side and within a mile of the city's other three sides. Currently, turbines can be built as close as 1,500 feet to the city under Ford County's zoning laws.
But four of the eight plan commissioners did not attend the meeting, so the lack of a quorum caused the meeting to be pushed back.
Three opponents to the proposed Top Crop Wind Farm urged the La Salle County Board to scrutinize the project, citing health, safety and liability issues. ...All three of the speakers testified at the ZBA public hearing. But County Board members typically do not attend the hearings. At the Top Crop hearing, only Tom Ganiere, D-Ottawa, was observed in attendance.
A County Board vote is scheduled for next month.
Trustee Mike DeMarco admitted the Village Board's Planning and Plats Committee felt it was necessary to study the issue more before any decisions could be made about how to regulate the use of wind energy by residents or large-scale users.
"Our ordinances do not have any height restrictions for wind power," DeMarco said. "They are more related to windmills than wind turbines."
A wind-energy company official said the firm is committed to the Ford County project, regardless of the Paxton City Council's proposed restrictions on turbines around the city.
"Unequivocally, we're committed to develop in Ford County," said Joe Borkowski, development manager for E.On Climate & Renewables. "If a larger buffer around Paxton is voted in (by the city council), some turbines - but definitely not all turbines - would be reallocated to Iroquois County, but we're talking right across the border."
Hearings have been scheduled for February on a proposal to build an 87-turbine wind farm, mostly in Minonk Township in eastern Woodford County.
Navitas Energy, a Minneapolis-based wind energy developer, has filed an application for a special-use permit with Woodford County zoning officials.
The public hearings are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 9, 10 and 11 at Fieldcrest South Elementary School in Minonk.
The discussion in Hanover Park over wind turbines is generating more hot air.
The village board next month is to consider joining a group of area school districts and communities who are supporting the construction of power-generating wind turbines to reduce electricity consumption. Hanover Park Trustee William Manton has asked for the item to appear on the Jan. 15 agenda.
But Village President Rodney Craig, who's been a big proponent of wind energy, nonetheless is calling Manton's move a political ploy.
The dozen people suing Livingston County over the Cayuga Ridge wind farm want to either consolidate their suit for both the northern and southern parts of the project or stay the County Board's approval for the southern part.
In a motion filed Friday in Livingston County Circuit Court, People Protecting Cayuga Ridge contend that the northern and southern parts of the Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) that Iberdrola Renewables plans to build are a single project.
A hearing on the motion is set for Feb. 25.
Bill Durdan has farmed northeast of Grand Ridge for 43 years and often relied on crop dusters.
Now, however, he has been told his proximity to wind turbine towers will prevent him from receiving that service.
The cost to him could be lost crops and lost revenue, he told the La Salle County Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday evening. ...Kim Schertz of Hudson, who works in her husband's crop dusting business, said the problem is pilots simply can not safely pull up and make the necessary turns in a wind farm area.
"These guys are good, but they're not kamikazes."
The La Salle County Zoning Board of Appeals voted 3-2 to recommend issuing a special use permit for a wind farm in the far southeast corner of the county.
The final permit is scheduled to be considered for County Board approval in February.
Officials from Horizon Wind Energy, which is owned by the Portuguese utility company Energias de Portugal Renovaveis, S.A., outlined plans for the Top Crop wind farm, which is to be built in La Salle, Grundy and Livingston counties.
Navitas, the Minneapolis-based wind energy company that recently received the green light for a wind farm near El Paso, has officially proposed another installation for the Minonk area.
The 87-turbine project as proposed would generate 200 megawatts of electricity annually - enough to power 60,000 homes - and cross county borders, with 65 turbines in Woodford County and 22 in neighboring Livingston County.
After inserting the topic of wind farm applications into the agenda for Friday's special session of the Woodford County Board earlier in the week, board member Tom Evans withdrew the issue from consideration without explanation when the meeting convened. ...Evans had said he wanted to discuss a possible procedural change to the way wind turbine special-use permit applications are handled but didn't expect the board to make any decisions Friday.
The University of Illinois has canceled its plans to build wind turbines on campus, citing the university's "deteriorating fiscal condition."
A contract for GE to build and deliver a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine for the South Farms was sent last week to the university from GE, but university officials did not sign it.
Chancellor Richard Herman on Thursday notified GE and student leaders of the university's decision to halt the project.
Financially ailing Babcock and Brown, owners of Crescent Ridge II wind farm in Bureau County, asked the County Board this week to issue building permits before the project's decommissioning and site restoration is fully funded.
The request is a departure from current county policy, which requires the exact opposite.
Bureau County ESDA director Chris Donarski advised caution in considering the request.
At Tuesday's meeting of the Bureau County Board, Crescent Ridge 2 attorney Paul Scoma said the developers are having trouble getting their letter of credit/cash escrow in place before the conditional use permits expire for the proposed rural Tiskilwa wind farm. With the economy as it is, everyone is having trouble getting letters of credit, Scoma said.
The developers also want the county to go ahead and issue the needed building permits for the project.
With the specter of a new series of wind turbine applications looming, the Woodford County Board will consider altering the permitting process for such developments at a special meeting today. ...The renewed discussion of wind farms - a particularly polarizing issue in Woodford County - comes as a previously approved project is expected to return to the board in a different form.