Articles filed under General from Illinois

Wind farm consequences

Mike King surprised our office staff Wednesday morning when he stood outside The Journal-Standard building with picket signs, awaiting the arrival of Congressman Don Manzullo. His hope was to draw Manzullo’s attention to the plight of neighbors in Dakota who are fighting an uphill battle against the development of wind farms in the community. Instead of greeting his constituent, Manzullo was literally shielded by well-dressed aides who scurried him into the building and away from King, much like a president is protected by his cadre of Secret Service agents. Too bad. Mr. King proved to be articulate, well-informed, and very patient about a situation that for him and some of his neighbors must be at once frightening and frustrating. Employed by the Social Security agency, Mike King finds himself out in front of a battle to stop what might become a national progression of wind farms.
24 Feb 2007

GE unit invests in Illinois wind farm

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) – GE Energy Financial Services announced Thursday that it was investing $270 million in wind farms in Illinois and three other states. The company, a unit of General Electric Co., is investing along with a subsidiary of Wachovia Corp. into six wind farms owned by affiliates of global investment and advisory firm Babcock & Brown. “This transaction continues the expansion of the geographic footprint and technology mix of our wind holdings,” said Kevin Walsh, GE Energy Financial Service’s managing director and leader of renewable energy. All the wind farms have either been completed or will be completed by the end of April, except the Pennsylvania operation, expected to be finished by December. In Illinois, the farms are in Lee and LaSalle counties. The other states are California, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. The announcement is the latest in a series of deals to expand GE’s foothold in wind power production. On Wednesday, GE Energy Financial Services announced that it would sell 165-megawatt wind farms in Germany for 5.2 million shares of Theolia, a Paris-based company that generates electricity from wind power. GE Energy Financial Services also purchased an additional 1.2 million shares of Theolia stock for about $26 million and could increase its ownership to up to 22 percent of Theolia. In September, GE Energy Financial Services announced it would finance the construction and operation of Tawhiri Power LLC’s wind farm in Hawaii.
16 Feb 2007

Judge dismisses suit against wind farm

The Baileyville Wind Farm took a small step forward last week when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the farm’s opponents more than a year ago. United States District Judge Philip Reinhard dismissed a 12-count lawsuit filed Jan. 23, 2006 by attorney Mark Muscarello on behalf of his wife, Patricia Muscarello, of Fountain Hills, Ariz. Patricia Muscarello owns 237 acres of farmland at the corner of Pecatonica and Oak Grove Roads in Leaf River Township. Her property adjoins the proposed wind farm but is not part of the project. Reinhard granted Muscarello 30 days to refile the lawsuit, which sought to stop the wind farm from being built in Ogle County. Reinhard’s decision could also be appealed in the federal appellate court. The case was dismissed in part over jurisdictional issues, as well as the number of plaintiffs.
15 Feb 2007

Just smoke and mirrors? Jury out on property tax benefits for wind farms

Critics of plans to build large-scale energy producing windmills in Stephenson County want officials to answer a number of significant questions about the project - including how much revenue they will generate for surrounding communities. Currently, proposals for two wind farms are under consideration. Minneapolis-based Navitas Energy is seeking approval for a 35-unit farm in Lancaster Township. Meanwhile, Freeport-based EcoEnergy wants to construct a 60-unit farm in Waddams Grove near Lena. Some local residents view the wind towers as uninvited - and unwelcome - guests. For instance, Dakota resident Michael King said that the Lancaster project could keep him from enjoying his Dakota property. The Lancaster Township wind-farm project would put turbines 1,900 feet to the east and 1,300 feet to the southeast of his 2-acre property. Though he’d like to thwart the development, King is not sure that is possible. “I don’t know what sort of affect we could have to keep them from being built,” he said. “The (Stephenson County Board) is so convinced that these are a wonderful deal,” he said.
11 Feb 2007

Initial approval for wind farm

It took a series of 13 hearings that began last November, but initial approval finally has been given to a controversial wind farm proposed by a Chicago company. The McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals late Thursday voted 6-0 to send the request for a special-use permit for Invenergy Wind LLC’s White Oak Wind Energy Center to the full County Board on March 20. Phil Dick, director of building and zoning, said Friday the ZBA approved the request after hearing from dozens upon dozens of residents and experts who spoke in opposition and in support of the wind farm. Dick said more than 300 people attended some of the first meetings. “I think it was a controversial issue that required a lot of people to participate,” said Dick, who is not a voting board member.
11 Feb 2007

Controversy remains in wind farm zoning tilt

Cindy Lorimor and Rhonda Baer are “very disappointed” the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals is recommending a special-use permit for the proposed White Oak Wind Energy Center. And, after the 12 days of hearings on the issue, Lorimor, Baer and other opponents of the 100-turbine wind farm are wondering how regular citizens can ever afford to fight something they’re against. “My personal opinion is any time a case like this is in front of the zoning board, it’s an uphill battle for citizens to oppose,” said Baer.
10 Feb 2007

Wind farm advances to next stage

A controversial wind farm proposal has been recommended to the McLean County Board. The county’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday voted unanimously, with one absent, to send the request for a special-use permit to the County Board. That board will meet March 20. The vote capped 12 days of hearings on the White Oak Wind Energy Center, a 100-wind turbine project along the Woodford-McLean county line.
9 Feb 2007

Board to hear closing arguments on wind farm

Closing arguments are expected to begin tonight in the controversial application by Invenergy to allow a 100-turbine wind farm in part of the agricultural areas of McLean and Woodford counties. Attorneys representing Invenergy and opponents will be allowed to speak 20 minutes and people who previously testified and are not represented by attorneys will have five minutes. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in Room 400 of the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St.
8 Feb 2007

Bill to tackle wind farm taxing issues

The Bureau County Board has approved three different multi-million dollar wind projects during the last year, promising economic growth for the small north-central Illinois county. However, problems with assessing the wind farms have halted some of the projects, as well as projects popping up throughout the state, as developers wait for a satisfying compromise in an argument about how to tax the energy-producing enterprises. Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, is attempting to resolve the conflict with legislation he introduced in the Illinois House last month. House Bill 380, seeks to amend the property tax code and set forth procedures for an assessment system based on kilowatt-hours of electricity produced. Taxing bodies would use the same across the state when assessing wind farms.
7 Feb 2007

Wind-farm protection plan debated

FREEPORT - Attorneys Monday debated the merits of a homeowner protection plan for the two wind farms proposed for the area at a meeting of the Stephenson County Planning and Development Committee. At issue Monday was a draft version of the plan, which is designed to set up terms by which the wind-farm companies would compensate adjacent homeowners who experience a loss in property value due to the wind towers. After discussing the plan with attorneys representing the wind-farm companies and objectors to the project, the committee voted Monday to lay the issue over until next month’s meeting. Jeff Mikkelsen, chairman of the committee, recommended committee members take a month to review the draft version of the plan, and also to consider amendments offered by various parties.
6 Feb 2007

Stephenson Co. to examine homeowner protection plan

As Stephenson County officials work to create a homeowner protection plan for the two proposed wind farms for this area, some objectors to the project are concerned a draft version of the plan does not sufficiently protect residents who experience property value loss. Currently, the plan is in draft form and may be changed as participants continue to discuss the terms of the document, said Terry Groves, director of planning and zoning for the county. The plan, which is also known as a “home-seller protection agreement,” will be discussed at the next county Planning and Development Committee meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at the county courthouse. County officials, the wind-farm companies, and landowners are providing input on the plan’s creation, officials said. Groves said it’s unclear whether the committee will approve the document at its next meeting, or whether it will undergo further revisions. To Groves, the document as it stands now is “fair” to all parties involved......... The main purpose of the plan is to set up specific terms by which the wind-farm companies would have to compensate adjacent homeowners who experience a loss in property value due to the wind towers. At this time, the plan only covers homes that are within 2,000 feet of a wind tower, but this figure has not yet been finalized, Groves said.
5 Feb 2007

Most residents disaprove of wind farm

Sharon MacDonald of Carlock told the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals a majority of the residents in the area of a proposed 100-turbine wind farm oppose it. She based the comment on petitions passed around by her and other members of a nonprofit group — called Information is Power — in White Oak and Dry Grove townships and other areas in McLean County. MacDonald said 77 out of 112 people asked in White Oak Township signed the petition. Another 48 signed a petition that included people in Dry Grove Township, Bloomington, Normal and Hudson.
31 Jan 2007

Wind farm concerns include questionable reports

Denise Preller is sensitive to motion sickness. She told the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday that for her, the proposed 100-turbine wind farm will make her ill. “I’m disturbed that I’ll get motion sickness in my own back yard,” she said. Her husband, Bill Preller, doesn’t relish the thought of sitting in his recliner in his family room and looking out his bay window only to see a wind turbine instead of a sunset. While the couple’s Hudson property will not have a turbine on it, Denise Preller said there will be one within 1,500 feet and eight in the section where they live. And she thinks a similar project in eastern McLean County looks like “a bad science fiction movie.”
31 Jan 2007

Critics: Wind farm math doesn’t add up

Michael Miller used his actuarial skills to criticize the math behind a favorable report on the White Oak Wind Energy Center near Carlock, and Bob Burger tried to show how the proposed development would “engulf” his view. Miller, a former Carlock mayor, called the 100-turbine wind farm proposed by Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC a “mistake for Carlock’s future.” He and Burger were the first objectors called Monday during the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the proposal. The hearing on Invenergy’s request for a special-use permit that would allow for the turbines in McLean County began Jan. 17 and is expected to continue at 6 p.m. today at the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St. “I do not find anything attractive about a 400-foot-tall forest of power plants,” Burger said.
30 Jan 2007

Wind farm foes to present case - McLean County hearings stretch into fifth day

Wind power opponents in McLean County may begin presenting the case against a proposed wind farm tonight as public hearings on the issue stretch into the fifth day. Hundreds have packed the hearings since they began last week, with nearly all of the 180 seats for the fourth four-hour session full on Monday night. Cindy Lorimor of rural Carlock has been to them all and plans to fight the project as long as she can. It’s not that she and her group, a grass-roots effort that has sprung up under the name Information is Power, oppose clean, alternative energy sources. They say the 12,000 acres in McLean and Woodford counties that will be dotted with 100 of the proposed 40-story turbines simply isn’t well suited for such a project.
24 Jan 2007

Sherrard plans wind turbine project

Another area school district is getting into the energy business. Plans are on the table for a $2.1 million wind turbine in the Sherrard School District in lower Rock Island County. The project would provide energy for the 170,000-square-foot junior/senior high campus, which is an all-electric facility. “Of that $2.1 million, the district has already received a little over $1.7 million in secured funding for the project,” Superintendent Robert Gillum said. “$420,000 of that is a nonrepay grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation.”
23 Jan 2007

Road upgrades being discussed; wind farm construction equipment could damage McLean, Woodford roads

BLOOMINGTON - Township roads could be upgraded as part of a massive wind farm project proposed for parts of McLean and Woodford counties. Bloomington attorney Robert Lenz, who represents road commissioners in four McLean County townships where Invenergy Wind LLC is trying to install a wind farm, testified Monday that he is negotiating with Invenergy to upgrade roads damaged during construction. “It will be a significant improvement over the conditions that now exist,” Lenz said. “They will all have a greater base than they have now, they’ll have a better surface, and they’ll be wider.” The testimony was part of the fourth day of public hearings before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals on whether to recommend a special-use permit for the White Oak Wind Energy Center that will span 12,000 acres near Carlock.
23 Jan 2007

Wind farm hearings continue

The noise made by wind turbines is the equivalent of background noise in a conference room, an engineer testified Monday night at a meeting before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals. Timothy Casey of HDR Engineering, Minneapolis, Minn., continued testimony began at the last meeting on his company’s noise analysis of the proposed wind turbines. His analysis was based on a wind speed of 22 mph — the wind might blow more, but the turbines are adjusted so they don’t spin faster if the wind speed is higher. He said because of a redesign of the configuration of the blades, they are quieter and don’t “thump” like older models do. Earlier, it was reported that the county requires 1,500-foot setbacks to distance turbines from homeowners. About 100 people attended one in a continuing series of four-hour meetings that continue this month. Invenergy Wind LLC of Chicago has proposed that 100 wind turbines be located on 12,200 acres in McLean and Woodford Counties. The White Oak Energy Center would be located west of Interstate 39 and north and east of Interstate 74. A total of 83 acres of farmland would ne taken out of production in the project, Invenergy has said.
22 Jan 2007

Public hearings on wind farm continue Monday

A public hearing on a proposal to bring a 100-turbine wind farm to land between Hudson and Carlock will continue at 6 p.m. Monday. The hearing will move from Heartland Community College to Room 400 in the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St., Bloomington. The McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals will continue to receive testimony from witnesses called by Invenergy Wind LLC, the company proposing the project.
19 Jan 2007

Critic calls turbines unfit neighbors; Noise levels, shadows cited as reasons to reject wind farm

An energy and environmental consultant hired by opponents of the proposed White Oak Wind Energy Center maintains Invenergy Wind LLC fails to meet several requirements for a special-use permit for the wind farm. Tom Hewson of Energy Ventures Analysis Inc., Arlington, Va., spoke to the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals during a hearing Wednesday night. He said the proposed 100-turbine wind farm in McLean and Woodford counties would be a detriment to the public because of noise levels and visibility. Hewson said he did a “simple approach” simulation of one turbine to see how far a person had to be away from the turbine before it complied with Illinois’ noise regulations. “At 750 feet away, it exceeded the range,” he said, noting that three property owners have asked for waivers to allow a turbine in about that range. Hewson said it wasn’t until a person was 1,200 feet away from the turbine that the noise met Illinois’ requirements.
18 Jan 2007
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