Champaign County officials began phase one of a proposed $30 million project to supply residents an alternative energy source.
Everpower Renewables, a New York-based developer of utility grade wind projects, wants to construct at least ten 300-foot wind turbines beginning at Yankee Hill Road traveling north about 20 to 30 miles toward Mingo.
The company applied for a building permit and was approved to install a test tower that will set near North Mutual Road to measure wind velocity, said Building Regulations Chief Inspector Jene Gaver.
The Union Township zoning commission will hold meetings to get public input before drafting an agreement with the company.
Because each tower would produce about two to three megawatts of power, the project falls under local jurisdiction, said Ken Davis, a zoning commission member.
“If we don’t set some regulations, they could do anything they want to do,” he said.
Some farmers have said they are for the idea, while others are against it, Davis said.
He said the company representatives have said it would like to spread the windmills about two to three miles apart to avoid being near homes.
Other concerns include protecting agricultural land, a primary concern of Dale Goddard, of the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District.
He said crew workers could damage a farmer’s installed drainage system while laying underground wires causing problems with future crop production.
Jack Webb, of the Logan County SWCD, will assist zoning officials with creating regulations for construction and maintenance of the wind turbines.
He said Logan County officials placed clauses in their agreement that made the company financial responsible for any damages caused by construction.
It was important that additional taxpayer dollars wouldn’t go toward repairing the structures, Webb said.
By LaToya Thompson
8 February 2007
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