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.
“I’ll be in the middle of them – three within 4,000 feet of my property,” Lorimor said. “We’re very, very concerned about property values.”
Unlike other wind farm projects that have grown in areas of the state dominated by vast, open expanses, Lorimor points to 450 homes in the immediate vicinity of proposed turbine sites for Invenergy Wind LLC’s White Oak Wind Energy Center.
And, according to the group’s research, wind farms on the East Coast that have been installed in areas of similar population density have diminished property values by as much as 10 to 30 percent.
The group conceivably will present expert testimony on that issue and other safety and aesthetic concerns when opponents get their turn at the microphone before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals, though Lorimor said that because of legal requirements she couldn’t discuss the substance of evidence her group will offer.
Mostly, Information is Power has been asking questions and encouraging others to do the same. They’re specifically looking for answers to questions like, “How can this be zoned agricultural? Isn’t this project less of a ‘wind farm’ and more of a ‘wind factory?’ ”
And, “What are the counties’ options if Invenergy LLC or a future owner is no longer financially sound?”
Those types of questions, Lorimor says, have helped the group garner support from far beyond the small core of neighbors with the potential to be directly affected by the project, though only a handful are paying for an attorney and independent analysis of the situation.
“A phone and e-mail chain started the whole thing,” Lorimor said. “Now, the group outside (the proposed wind farm area) has grown exponentially.”
The public hearing resumes at 6 p.m. tonight in the McLean County Board Room at the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St., in Bloomington.
By Matt Buedel
Of The Journal Star
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