At Tuesday's meeting in the Bureau County Courthouse in Princeton, the county board voted unanimously to delay action on the requested conditional use permits for Walnut Ridge until a formal roads agreement is finalized.
Bureau County Engineer John Gross said a roads agreement between Walnut Ridge developers Midwest Wind Energy, the county and the townships is close to being finalized. However, until that agreement is formally reached and written, he could not recommend going ahead and approving the conditional use permits.
The Fulton County Board helped pave the way for possible wind energy production in the county by approving ordinances regulating small and large wind energy conversion systems.
During public remarks, Dean Wright of Meister Electric of Peoria, addressed the board asking them to work on encouraging rather than restricting wind energy system building. He asked the board to slow down and offered to help board members study the issue further.
Wright had already submitted a letter to Fulton County Board Chairman Ed Ketcham about problems concerning the proposed ordinances concerning small wind energy systems.
The next time you take a drive through the country, take Interstate 55 south about 140 miles, merge onto Interstate 74 and follow it east about 10 miles.
Look around you.
You probably won't see much, but this undeveloped plot of land could soon house machinery that would generate enough electricity to power three school districts.
Two suburban school districts - Community Unit District 300 and Keeneyville Elementary District 20 - are looking to partner with a third district downstate - Tri-Valley School District 3 - to build a wind farm in Downs - about 10 miles southeast of Bloomington.
Landowners have been contacted by representatives from an alliance of two California companies, American Wind Energy Management and Oak Creek Energy Systems, about land lease agreements that could pave the way for a wind farm to be called Sugar Creek Wind One.
The project is in the preliminary stages, so developers don't know how many turbines would be built or how much the project would cost. They companies are looking for test sites now.
The kind of windmills Oswego trustees are discussing would stand 60 to 80 feet tall on residential property that is between half an acre and an acre.
Larger lots would not have a height restriction beyond those imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration. ...On the other hand, Lisa Linowes with the Industrial Wind Action Group -- which counteracts misleading wind energy information -- contends that it's more beneficial to reduce energy use than erect backyard windmills. ...Village leaders should remember to have an open but realistic mind when considering ways to make the community more eco-friendly.
Just because windmills may be good for the environment doesn't necessarily make them a good fit for Oswego.
Horizon Wind Energy confirmed in March it was in the early stages of evaluating the potential of a wind turbine project that would cover the corners of Vermilion, Champaign, Edgar and Coles counties. Horizon officials have said test towers could evaluate the wind for as long as two years before work begins.
In Danville, however, work has already began to make sure all bases are covered for the potential of an incoming wind farm.
Bill Donahue, chairman of the Vermilion County Board's finance committee, is working on an ordinance setting certain rules for everyone involved, ranging from landowners to Horizon.
At Tuesday's board meeting, trustees approved the first read of an ordinance for the construction of small wind energy systems as a special-use permit at single-family homes.
Village President Brian LeClercq embraced the idea, noting that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done.
"I'm really excited about alternative energy," LeClercq said after the meeting. "It's important for us to at least look at these types of things."
August 4, 2008
by John Sharp and Karen McDonald
in Peoria Journal Star
[Stewart] Umholtz, Tazewell County state's attorney, last week said he will pursue legal action against his own County Board's decision to extend an existing enterprise zone, allowing a wind farm development to be eligible for a sales tax abatement. He seeks an Illinois Attorney General's Office opinion on the matter.
One of the points Umholtz disagrees with is the issuance of a 3-foot extension many local governments, including the city of Peoria and Tazewell County, utilize to extend their enterprise zones.
The permits for the 14 turbines were tabled at the board's June 14 meeting upon request of the wind farm developers after rural Walnut resident Kurt Geldean opposed the turbines, saying they would interfere with the use of his private airstrip.
Addressing the zoning board Wednesday, Mike Donahue, representing Walnut Ridge developers Midwest Energy, said a verbal agreement was reached with Geldean just prior to the start of the meeting. The verbal agreement called for the withdrawal of five turbines, with Geldean agreeing not to oppose the other nine.
Tazewell County State's Attorney Stuart Umholtz said at the board meeting Wednesday night that he has asked Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to deliver an opinion on the enterprise zone's expansion.
A company called Horizon Wind Energy has requested that Tazewell County and the City of Pekin expand their enterprise zone by providing a connecting strip 24 miles long and 3 feet wide. The strip would extend from the existing enterprise zone out to the southern-most area of Tazewell county and connect to 38 wind turbine sites. ...New enterprise zones cannot be created and the expansion of an existing one must be contiguous.
"Respect the rule of law," Umholtz told board members. He said that during his career as state's attorney, he has never before delivered a memorandum to board members advising them that they are doing something wrong.
The Tazewell County Board approved extending an enterprise zone to a proposed wind farm against the recommendation of State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz, who said legal action against the county is the next step.
"The issue will get before an Illinois court," Umholtz said Wednesday after the board's 12-4 vote.
Umholtz says the extension violates the Illinois Enterprise Zone Act.
He said he could find no supporting case law for the city of Pekin and the county to extend their jointly owned enterprise zone using connected, 3-foot-wide strips of land from Pekin to the Tazewell and Logan county line.
A second wind farm is on Logan County's horizon.
On the heels of Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy receiving a conditional-use permit from the Logan County Board to erect 29 wind turbines in the Emden area, another company said Wednesday it plans to construct a wind farm in another part of the county.
The farm, to be called Sugar Creek Wind One, has already started the process of contacting landowners in the New Holland and Middletown areas to obtain land leases for turbines.
Stan Komperda, a consultant with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates ...announced Wednesday a joint effort of American Wind Energy Management and Oak Creek Energy Systems to begin the process of erecting turbines in the county.
Proposed regulations for wind energy conversion systems have been recommended for adoption by the Fulton County Board. If adopted, the new rules would be included in the county zoning ordinance. The Fulton County Zoning Board of Appeals voted 4-2 to recommend such action following hearings held Wednesday at the Fulton County Health Department. ...Lynch noted noise can pose a concern if it is not addressed properly. Noise for both small and large wind-energy systems is proposed to be limited to 60 decibels, measured from the boundary lines of property where such systems are located. This also would comply with minimum noise requirements set by the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
Navitas Energy won approval Tuesday to relocate six wind towers from near El Paso to the southern portion of its proposed 3,000-acre development.
The Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to relocate the towers that were within half a mile of U.S. 24 or Interstate 39 to an area near Kappa.
The village of El Paso opposed 12 turbines to be placed near the village saying they would prohibit future development.
With a study under way to determine whether District 300 would benefit by installing a wind turbine at the new Hampshire High School, the district now is beginning to look into joining two other school districts to build a wind farm in central Illinois that would generate enough electricity to power the entire district.
But if a state law doesn't change, the off-site wind farm idea is moot, Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Crates said.
Under current law, school districts, community colleges, and municipalities that produce energy using a wind turbine are only credited for 20 percent of the power they produce beyond what they need ...
A letter from Hancock County State's Attorney Jim Drozdz sparked a debate about a possible conflict of interest by Hancock County board members Joe Stevenson and Tom Scheetz in their dealings with a windmill manufacturer.
Stevenson and Scheetz have each signed an option agreement with EcoEnergy, a windmill manufacturing company looking to develop a windmill farm in the county. The company plans to issue a site plan in the future which details who receives a windmill. The site plan must be approved by the county board.
Drozdz stated in his letter, dated June 20, he believed there was a conflict of interest by Scheetz and Stevenson when they voted on "matters related to windmill farms."
Invenergy of Chicago is to expand the multi-million dollar Grand Rapids Wind Energy Center eastward into Grundy County.
"We are currently reaching out to the landowners," Invenergy spokesman Michael Arndt noted Wednesday, during the public meeting concerning the expansion project. "We held a landowners meeting recently with those who will prospectively be hosting wind turbines, and 120 landowners showed up. They're very interested."
[Rockford attorney Rick] Porter, who represents nine owners near the Emden area, said he expects the decision to be overturned.
"We intend to file an appeal, and we believe the courts will see that there were mistakes made in the zoning process," Porter said. "More than anything, though, our clients wanted some sort of guarantee that the property values would not suffer, and the board wasn't willing to include that as a condition of the permit."
The permit allows using land zoned for agricultural use for a wind farm.
Plans for a wind farm near El Paso have been stalled for nearly a year because of township road issues, but now an agreement and final vote may be a month away.
Paul Lewis, attorney for wind farm developer Navitas Energy of Minneapolis, and Robert Lenz, representing commissioners in El Paso and Palestine townships, say progress has been made on an agreement on maintenance of township roads. A stipulation from the Zoning Board of Appeals a year ago required an agreement between township road commissioners and the company before a special-use permit could be granted.
By a 17-4 vote with three abstentions, board the 155-turbine project proposed by Spanish wind farm developer Iberdrola Renewables. It will be built on sites scattered across 15,000 acres between Saunemin and Odell. ...Supporters of the project have said the wind farm would be a financial boon for farmers who will rent space for the turbines and taxing bodies that collect property taxes. Dissenters have said the turbines will block other economic development around them and could reduce property values.