SPRINGFIELD - State lawmakers probably will end their spring legislative session without voting on a plan that would establish a uniform method of assessing wind farms for property tax purposes, said Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley.
The Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday postponed hearings about a proposed 40 to 50 turbine wind farm near El Paso until July 25.
SERENA - The idea of a wind turbine generating electricity for the Community Unit School District 2 went up in smoke, at least for the time being.
Data collected as part of a feasibility study conducted by the engineering company Amereco indicated the size of the turbine that would best suit the district would be erected too low to take advantage of the wind speeds at the Serena campus, the school board learned last week.
Citing economic and property value concerns, the El Paso City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday evening opposing construction of a wind farm within 1.5 miles of the city. The resolution will be filed today with the Woodford County Zoning Board.
"We spent a whole year developing a comprehensive plan," said Mayor Herb Arbuckle. "Now, they have put 12 of the 42 wind towers within the 1.5 mile comprehensive zone, which we (the city council) believe will have a detrimental impact on the city's economy."
EUREKA -- Wind farm projects in Woodford County may be delayed unless the state passes a law specifying how they will be taxed.
County Administrator Greg Jackson said local government doesn't have all the facts needed to continue approving wind farm projects. He recommended the county board delay approval of future wind farms until potential tax revenue is set in stone.
A Chicago-based wind energy company has submitted its first permit applications to build a massive wind farm south of Marseilles.
La Salle County Environmental Services and Land Use department on Tuesday received 66 wind turbine permit applications from Invenergy LLC, based in Chicago, for the first phase of a large wind farm development in La Salle County. The development is projected to have 233 turbines spanning parts of Brookfield, Grand Rapids and Allen townships when it is finished.
For now, La Salle County's zoning ordinance only allows one 100 megawatt wind farm to be constructed at a time. Since each turbine will produce 1.5 mega-watts, Invenergy must break the project into phases. The first phase will be no more than 66 turbines.
Stephenson County Circuit Judge Theresa Ursin will assign a new judge to hear a law-suit filed in March seeking to prevent the EcoGrove Wind LLC wind farm from being built northwest of Lena.
"I am going to take this under advisement for the time being," Ursin said in local court Wednesday.
Stalled legislation aimed at assessing wind farm developments in Illinois has concerned Woodford County's administrator so much that tonight he is going to request the County Board delay approving future developments.
County Administrator Gregory Jackson said Monday he is concerned about how wind turbines will be assessed for property tax purposes, and warns if no legislation is approved in Springfield, the county will be "at risk" of losing tax dollars some day if the developments become reality.
Some Stephenson County residents are concerned wind turbines close to their homes will decrease their property value. In response the county wrote up a plan to give them some piece of mind, but it did just the opposite.
Winnetka's breezes may not be strong enough to power an energy-producing turbine.
Village officials had considered building a 278-foot wind turbine atop a landfill that fronted Willow Road, but they decided Tuesday after discussing the details not to go forward with the plan. They were concerned that the project's estimated cost of $3.8 million would far outweigh its benefit, according to Village Manager Doug Williams.
After considerable debate, the Stephenson County Board on Wednesday agreed to remove a stipulation from special-use permits that requires the county to create a homeowner protection plan for the proposed local wind farms.
As a result of Wednesday night's action, the county will not create a plan which sets up terms by which the wind-farm companies would compensate adjacent homeowners who experience a loss in property value due to the wind towers. Two wind farms, Lancaster Wind Farm LLC and EcoGrove Wind LLC, are being proposed for the Dakota and Lena areas, respectively.
Michael Arndt believes the community is eyeing a nice financial windfall in the alternative energy facility his company is proposing.
Arndt, of Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC, told the outgoing Marseilles City Council Wednesday evening his company will initially construct 66 wind turbines and a maintenance facility in Brookfield Township this coming fall.
"This phase will be a $130 million investment," he said.
When completed, the project will be the fourth largest wind farm in North America, Arndt said.
After an executive session Monday night, the Stephenson County Planning and Development Committee approved motions recommending that the county not require a homeowner protection plan for the local wind farms.
In a unanimous vote, the committee endorsed removing the stipulations in the wind farm special-use permits that require the county to create a protection plan. The full County Board will likely vote on this issue at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 9.
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group (NYSE: TEG), is looking to build or buy a wind generation facility of approximately 100 megawatts of nameplate capacity somewhere in the Midwest.
"To help meet our renewable energy requirements, we are exploring wind options throughout the footprint of the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO), our regional electric transmission authority," said Public Service Director - Renewable and Special Projects Rob Benninghoff. "That includes the area roughly from the Dakotas to Illinois."
In Carroll County, the answers are blowing in the wind.
EcoEnergy, a wind energy company, is interested in building 60 to 100 electricity-generating wind turbines in eastern Carroll and western Ogle counties.
If wind farm, and or, wind turbine opponents had any doubt they are fighting an uphill battle in the debate on the Lancaster Wind Farm and EcoGrove Wind LLC, consider the opinions held by representatives at the federal level.
Contacted Friday, spokesmen for both Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Egan) steered clear of opinions on what they termed "local" issues.
House Bill 380 would create a uniform standard for calculating property taxes based on the wind farm's construction costs. We did the math, and the bottom line for Twin Groves: $3.37 million. Renner says, "Four million dollars to most people is a lot of money. Maybe not to Bill Gates, but it certainly is."
The Physical Plant is looking to turn blustery days into university dollars.
University officials have applied for a $30,000 grant to investigate the feasibility of building a 2.5-megawatt wind generator on campus, said Justin Harrell, a Physical Plant electrical engineer.
If awarded the grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the university could begin studying the possibility of building a wind turbine as early as this summer, Harrell said.
An Illinois lawmaker says with a growing number of wind farms in the state, there should be a statewide standard for how they're appraised for taxing purposes. So far, no complaints from Horizon Energy which will eventually operate the largest wind farm in the country in eastern McLean County. Representative Ed Sullivan of Mundelein says having consistent standards is a good idea, but he has a problem with the high tax levels being proposed.
Stephen Noe of Midwest Energy, one of the largest developers of wind farms in the Midwest, says the proposals would put Illinois well above other states in wind farm taxation and that would be bad for business.
PRINCETON - Two wind farm companies have dropped a lawsuit against Bureau County, according to State's Attorney Patrick Herrmann.
The lawsuit was filed in February by Crescent Ridge LLC and Eurus Crescent Ridge II LLC over a proposed Crescent Ridge Wind II project. Herrmann said the companies dropped the suit this month after it was dismissed by LaSalle County Circuit Judge Joseph Hettel.