Article

County Board to hear Koppeis’ plan to build wind farm along scenic bluffs

County Mapping, Platting and Zoning Director Mike Fausz said the windmills Koppeis is hoping to erect would be among the largest in the state of Illinois. He also said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has signaled it has concerns about the wind farm. 

Area commercial developer Joe Koppeis has his sights on placing 50 of the state’s biggest wind turbines atop one of the most scenic stretches of Southern Illinois. Koppeis, developer behind Valmeyer’s Rock City, 11 South and the Columbia Centre, is looking to get local, state and regulatory approval to place the turbines, measuring 330 feet tall each, on the western end of Monroe County. The first one would be along C Road near new town Valmeyer, and they would run south to rural Renault, connecting to the Ameren / power transmission lines (the ones running from the Baldwin power plant to Rush Island across the Mississippi River). The power generated would be sold onto the "grid" through Ameren's Rush Island power plant located in Jefferson County.

Koppeis states that the height of the bluffs produce wind shear sufficient to generate adequate wind speeds to turn the turbines’ blades. He prefers the area from Valmeyer to Renault since it is less populated than the bluffs in Columbia. The tie in to the Ameren's high voltage transmission line is also a key factor in his project's proposed location. His future plans would be to expand this project south from Renault along the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Area commercial developer Joe Koppeis has his sights on placing 50 of the state’s biggest wind turbines atop one of the most scenic stretches of Southern Illinois. Koppeis, developer behind Valmeyer’s Rock City, 11 South and the Columbia Centre, is looking to get local, state and regulatory approval to place the turbines, measuring 330 feet tall each, on the western end of Monroe County. The first one would be along C Road near new town Valmeyer, and they would run south to rural Renault, connecting to the Ameren / power transmission lines (the ones running from the Baldwin power plant to Rush Island across the Mississippi River). The power generated would be sold onto the "grid" through Ameren's Rush Island power plant located in Jefferson County. 

Koppeis states that the height of the bluffs produce wind shear sufficient to generate adequate wind speeds to turn the turbines’ blades. He prefers the area from Valmeyer to Renault since it is less populated than the bluffs in Columbia. The tie in to the Ameren's high voltage transmission line is also a key factor in his project's proposed location. His future plans would be to expand this project south from Renault along the bluffline to Chester.

Koppeis is promoting the venture as “green energy producing green dollars” for the local tax base. He estimates that each turbine would generate about $5,000 annually for the school district in which the tower is located (Waterloo and Valmeyer). He also touts the $200 million investment in the project would result in well-paying jobs during the construction phase as well as ongoing maintenance. At this point, Koppeis is working to obtain the necessary governmental approvals as well as leasing acres from landowners. If all goes according to his plan, he would hope to break ground by 2020, but he understands this is a long-term proposal which may take several years to see through fruition. Koppeis has been working on this idea for the past 10 years. 

He has yet to receive the okay from the county. Commissioners Bob Elmore, Vicki Koerber and Delbert Wittenauer touched on the idea at their Aug. 6 meeting. They have invited Koppeis to their Aug. 20 meeting to further delve into his proposal.

Koppeis first publicly spoke of his plans for the "wind farm" in 2011, around the time he began measuring wind velocity at various spots around Valmeyer and points south east. The plan has evolved a number of times since then. He initially hoped to simply put up a single tower to reduce the electric bill at Rock City. That tower would have been located on farm ground adjacent to his Valmeyer cave development. But he has since envisioned a grander plan.

County Mapping, Platting and Zoning Director Mike Fausz said the windmills Koppeis is hoping to erect would be among the largest in the state of Illinois. He also said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has signaled it has concerns about the wind farm. "Vibration is one issue. Will these wind generators create enough vibration that they will disturb the cave systems underground?" Fausz said. The county is charged with reporting the death of wildlife - typically birds - that result from windmills to the IDNR. "If you kill off a few sparrows, that's not the same impact you'd have if you see a couple of bald eagles getting knocked off," Fausz said, speculating at the possibility that protected species could be harmed.

Koppeis said he has completed extensive studies with Terracon, a St. Louis-based engineering firm. He states their thorough testing has shown there would be be limited environmental impact and there would be no vibrations at the base, so the county's cave system would not be effected. In addition, their studies have passed tests regarding the safety of birds' and bats' flight patterns.  

Koppeis admits that some citizens may find the turbines as detrimental to the bluff’s scenic beauty, but he says those factors are outweighed by the commercial value and improvement to the local economy. “One property owner told me he likes the way they look and considers it as therapeutic to them,” added Koppeis. He also envisions the 50 turbines as being a tourist attraction.  

"Before I'd be willing to sign off on this, I'd want to know that our ordinance insures that everything is protected," said Koerber. Commissioners Delbert Wittenauer and Robert Elmore agreed more discussion and study is necessary before the county gives its endorsement.

Since Monday’s meeting, several local residents who live in the bottoms have expressed concerns about the project due to the aesthetic changes to one of the county’s most beautiful areas. They also worry about the consequences of clearcutting and the potential harm to wildlife, particularly species that already endangered.

Koppeis will weigh in on the matter at the county board’s Aug. 20, meeting beginning at 8 a.m. The public is invited.


Source: http://monroecountynews.net...

AUG 8 2018
https://www.windaction.org/posts/48656-county-board-to-hear-koppeis-plan-to-build-wind-farm-along-scenic-bluffs
back to top