Articles from Illinois
More than 10 years ago, a proposed mega-sized hog farm had some Vermilion County residents calling for zoning. Next, it was a proposed medical waste incinerator. Now, it's wind farms.
A special use permit for a 100-tower wind farm in Otter Creek and Allen townships in LaSalle County has expired, although a buyer for the project is still being sought.
Last week, Invenergy, an energy development company based in Chicago, submitted a special-use permit application to the county. The Zoning Board of Appeals will review it and could send it to the County Board this fall.
Iberdrola's failure to launch could be one indicator wind farm construction has stalled in the county in recent years. Last year, Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman told The Times the company was having trouble finding a buyer for the project.
For more than a year, several members of the public have been repeatedly asking the board to reconsider its wind ordinance. In the absence of zoning, the county board adopted an ordinance stipulating some safety issues regarding wind turbines.
Vocal, vehement opposition from local farmers and landowners has put a $300 million Grundy County project on hold. It’s known as the Rock Island Clean Line Energy project, and it involves channeling 3,500 megawatts of wind energy from Iowa to Illinois through a series of above-ground transmission lines.
After several months of consideration, the Bureau County Board has made its decision on how to handle decommissioning funds for the Big Sky wind farm near Ohio. At Tuesday’s meeting, the county board voted 16 to 5 to approve a $2 million letter credit to the Big Sky wind farm.
Last month, Gerdes shared a study on decommissioning costs that a Virginia-based company did at the request of his group. According to the study, it would cost about $19.4 million to take down the 87 turbines, about $224,000 each. At that rate, the cost to decommission Big Sky could be in the $10 million to $12 million range.
At last month’s county board meeting, Gerdes shared an in-depth study his group had done by a Virginia-based company on decommissioning costs. As previously reported in the BCR, the study revealed the total cost to take down 87 turbines was just over $19.4 million, or about $224,000 per turbine. At that rate, the cost to decommission Big Sky could potentially be in the $10-12 million range.
Heartland Community College will be doing a more complete study later this year to determine if its wind turbine is killing too many birds and bats.
Following an existing power line corridor, according to opponents, would be 18 miles shorter and would save approximately $36.8 million. However, the ICC concluded the route as approved would be least expensive when “all costs and benefits are taken into account.”
“I don’t think the taxpayers should have to pay for taking those down. The other problem we have is that when landowners signed these leases with these companies they were promised that if this doesn’t work they’ll come back and take the turbine down.
The Bureau County Board’s decision to go into negotiations followed a lengthy board discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, which also included comments from a concerned resident as well as comments from a representative of the new Big Sky owner, the Pittsburgh-based EverPower Wind Co. The new owner has asked the county board to agree to a letter of credit for the decommissioning plan, rather than keep the current cash-on-hand arrangement.
When the Big Sky wind farm started, it set aside money in escrow, in case the company abandoned the project and the county needed to take down the turbines. ...The account contains nearly $1.8 million. Now, the wind farm's prospective owner wants to do away with the escrow account and go with a letter of credit.
In bringing wind turbines to Boone County, some are essentially trying to disguise heavy industry as farming. Some have even had the audacity to call their decision to financially benefit from the wind turbines as “freedom to farm.” It would appear, in fact, that they are looking for freedom to have industry.
The Informed Farmers Coalition is targeting the Walnut Ridge and Green River wind farms, saying it wants to educate farmers before they consider new contracts with Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy.
The Informed Farmers Coalition (IFC), a group of Lee, Bureau and Whiteside county landowners and citizens, is working to spread awareness about wind turbine project development and the adverse effects it may have on these communities.
Champaign County Board members have gone on record as being opposed to legislation in Springfield that they contend would weaken their oversight of wind farms. In a unanimous voice vote, board members approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 3263, proposed by Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville.
There are growing concerns that a bill under consideration in Springfield could dampen Illinois' status as a leader in wind energy. Senate Bill 3263 would transfer regulatory responsibilities for wind-energy permitting from counties to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, a move supporters say is needed to address inconsistencies in the state's wind-farm rules.
Sullivan said he is aware that his proposed law, which is an initiative of the Illinois Farm Bureau, is not looked upon favorably by some counties, specifically those that want to retain local control over wind farms. Wind-energy advocates are also not supportive of the measure. However, Sullivan thinks the change would help bring consistency to Illinois’ wind-farm rules, which vary greatly by county.