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Much to do before wind power harnessed - Zoning, monitoring, marketing precede development

GALESBURG - Before wind turbines swish through the air in Knox County, work remains.

There are zoning ordinances to pass and projects to approve. And the energy developer needs a customer to buy the electricity.

But a representative of Greenlight Energy, the developer, says work is always needed before a wind project becomes visible.

Right now, Greenlight Energy officials are eying the region around Alexis where Knox, Warren and Mercer counties meet.

"What we've been doing is talking to all the different counties because we're not exactly sure of what the wind farm looks like until we gather more wind resource information," said Matt Sakurada, regional development director for Greenlight Energy.

The company has a wind monitoring tower in Mercer County.
If the project becomes a reality, power will run to a substation in Galesburg.

But before construction begins, Greenlight Energy wants to have a customer lined up.

"What we're trying to do is sell the power generated from the facility to a customer," Sakurada said, adding that it could be a utility company in the state. "It's really just the typical way projects get organized and completed."

From there, it takes about nine months to build the turbines and another six months to get the permits and zoning completed.

The... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
There are zoning ordinances to pass and projects to approve. And the energy developer needs a customer to buy the electricity.

But a representative of Greenlight Energy, the developer, says work is always needed before a wind project becomes visible.

Right now, Greenlight Energy officials are eying the region around Alexis where Knox, Warren and Mercer counties meet.

"What we've been doing is talking to all the different counties because we're not exactly sure of what the wind farm looks like until we gather more wind resource information," said Matt Sakurada, regional development director for Greenlight Energy.

The company has a wind monitoring tower in Mercer County.
If the project becomes a reality, power will run to a substation in Galesburg.

But before construction begins, Greenlight Energy wants to have a customer lined up.

"What we're trying to do is sell the power generated from the facility to a customer," Sakurada said, adding that it could be a utility company in the state. "It's really just the typical way projects get organized and completed."

From there, it takes about nine months to build the turbines and another six months to get the permits and zoning completed.

The project would be about 100 towers, he said, and produce about 150 megawatts of power.

Most likely, 2008 is when the building and producing would occur, Sakurada said.

For the nine-month construction period, there would be about 200 temporary jobs.

When the wind farm is up and running, it would provide 10 to 12 jobs.

There also are benefits for farmers, who can earn money from turbines placed on their land, Sakurada said. Because the turbines only take between 2 and 5 percent of the land surface, farming can continue, with the wind energy being a supplemental source of income.

Greenlight Energy became aware of the wind potential in the area from research completed by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, based at Western Illinois University.

Roger Brown, a representative of the institute, said there is a three-year statewide program to study wind potential in Illinois.

The goal is to make the results publicly available and attract the attention of developers, he said.

The data that collected includes wind velocity, direction and temperature.

Although developers have to do more research of their own, it's a good starting point, Brown said.

"Wind farms are rural in nature," he said. "You're not going to see these in the middle of large cities. Obviously there are a number of landowners that are very, very interested in seeing wind development."

A $419,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation provided money for the research.

Zoning officials are making preparations.

Knox and Warren County zoning officials will meet Feb. 16 to discuss possibilities for zoning ordinances in their respective counties.

Stacy Dutton, the zoning administrator for Warren County, said her county will decide on final language to propose for a zoning ordinance. Then, a future meeting will be scheduled for a public hearing and vote.

Source: http://www.register-mail.co...

FEB 5 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1200-much-to-do-before-wind-power-harnessed-zoning-monitoring-marketing-precede-development
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