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Wind farm to file for permit Wednesday


By Mary Ann Ford

BLOOMINGTON – Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC plans to file a request Wednesday for a special-use permit for a 100-turbine wind farm in McLean and Woodford counties.

White Oak Wind Energy Center, proposed for 12,000 acres of farmland in Dry Grove, Hudson, Kansas, Montgomery, Normal and White Oak townships, would produce 150 megawatts of power – enough energy to serve 40,000 homes, said Joel Link, director of business development for Invenergy.

Link said Invenergy is talking to ComEd, Ameren and the Springfield utility company about purchasing the power.

Springfield recently got backing from the Sierra Club for a plan to add to a coal-fired plant as long as the utility also would seek wind power, Link said.

“We’ve been developing the project since 2003,” Link said. Invenergy already has wind farms in Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Poland and others under construction in Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma.

“We’re the largest independent wind developer,” he said.

Invenergy would develop, own and operate the center.

Link said the proposed area meets the three main components needed for development of a wind farm: it’s in an agriculture area with landowners receptive to the idea; is accessible to a transmission line – Ameren has a high voltage line through the site; and has high wind readings.

There are 60 landowners in the proposed area and 215 parcels, Link said. The land is west of Interstate 39 and north of Interstate 74 between Hudson and Carlock.

Each turbine would have a 262-foot tower with a 126-foot blade and occupy about one-third of an acre. Link said the turbines would be 1,500 feet from any “non-participating” home.

All landowners within a two-mile radius of the proposed site soon will receive information about meetings on the venture, Link said.

Two public informational meetings are planned on Oct. 11 at the Interstate Center and there will be three public hearings: in McLean County on Nov. 20 and 21 and in Woodford County sometime in December.

Link said pending all approval, work on the wind farm could begin in the spring. The bulk of the construction would take place over six to seven months, he said, allowing the turbines to be set up before fall, when the wind is the strongest in the area.

Invenergy already has ordered 400 wind turbines from General Electric for this and other projects, Link said.

The company said the $250 million project would create about 150 local contractor jobs during construction and about 15 jobs once the plant is operational.

White Oak Wind Energy Center would be the second wind farm in McLean County. Horizon Wind Energy is working on a $500 million, 267-turbine wind farm in the Saybrook-Arrowsmith-Ellsworth area. The 400 megawatts of energy will become part of the Commonwealth Edison grid that serves the Chicago area.