BY Andrea Frampton
Of the Journal Star
BLOOMINGTON – A new wind farm could spring up in McLean and Woodford counties as soon as the fall of 2007 if all permits are received by October, according to Invenergy Wind LLC.
The Chicago-based company filed a special-use permit application Wednesday for a 100-turbine wind farm northwest of Bloomington.
The 12,000 acres proposed for the wind farm are west of Interstate 39 and north of Interstate 74 between Hudson and Carlock.
“We’ve been recording the wind there since 2003,” said Joel Link, director for operations for Invenergy. “The wind speeds are better than we initially expected.”
The $250 million White Oak Wind Energy Center is expected to produce 150 megawatts of power, enough to serve up 40,000 homes.
Link said he expected construction to begin in late April or May 2007. The heavy construction would take about seven months, followed by fine-tuning the turbines, Link said.
The permit application will be reviewed this week by the McLean County Department of Building and Zoning and then sent to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We want to make sure we have the application two weeks before a public hearing in order to give notices to property owners in the area,” said Philip Dick, director of the Department of Building and Zoning. “We will be looking at the noise level, avian risk and archaeological historical survey.”
Link said the 75 owners of about 215 parcels of land have signed easements that would give the company 35 years to run the project.
About 50 acres of land would be taken out of production. Landowners would receive royalties, approximately $500,000 for all 75 involved, for each turbine on their property for the entire life of the project.
Each turbine would have a 262-foot tower with a 126-foot blade and would be at least 1,500 feet from nonparticipating homes. The project is expected to create about 150 area contractor jobs during construction and about 15 jobs to provide maintenance.
Two information meetings on the White Oak Wind Energy Center are planned for Oct. 11 at the Interstate Center in Bloomington. Three public hearings will be scheduled Nov. 20 and 21 in McLean County.
Invenergy will also add 12 to 15 wind turbines in Woodford County.
County officials received a $24,600 check Tuesday to apply for a special-use permit to construct the structures on property in Kansas Township, near Carlock. On Wednesday, the county received the company’s application.
Woodford County will host its own set of meetings. The County Board has ultimate power to approve or reject the permit. The first meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 10 at Congerville Elementary School.
Invenergy’s move into Woodford County comes the same time as Minneapolis-based Navitas Energy is planning to construct a 79-turbine wind farm near Benson. The county’s Zoning Board of Appeals will consider Navitas’ request for a special-use permit Sept. 27.
Construction on both projects could be completed by next summer.
Andrea Frampton can be reached at 686-3041 or firstname.lastname@example.org. John Sharp contributed to this story.
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