This month will mark the four-year anniversary of a proposed wind farm project running through Shelby, Moultrie and Coles Counties, but where are the wind turbines? The answer to that question is, they are still coming according to the new company that now owns this project.
That new company is Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA, which is a company out of Spain. Iberdrola also happens to be the world’s largest owner, builder and operator of winds farms. Iberdrola purchased what they refer to as the Mattoon Wind Farm project from Navitas, the company that started the project.
Zoning Administrator Chuck Stanley informed the county board of this change at their last meeting on March 14.
Stanley believes the change of companies on the project will turn out to be an advantage for the project.
“This is a bigger company (Iberdrola) and they have had success in installing wind energy systems and they have the resources. So I believe this is to our advantage,” said Stanley.
The press release and e-mails sent to Stanley support that theory. According to information from Iberdrola the wind energy industry continues to make tremendous strides in the United States where wind energy installations now exceed 10,000 megawatts (MW) in generating capacity and produce enough electricity on a typical day to power the equivalent of over 2.5 million homes.
The project manager for Navitas, Barry Fladeboe agrees this change will be good for the Mattoon Project.
“This sale is good news for the project, partly because Iberdrola has better access to turbines as it currently stands, and the project should be in a better position to get built,” said Fladeboe. “Iberdrola is an excellent company that concentrates more on owning/operating wind farms, as opposed to Navitas who is more of a project developer.”
That release goes on to say that while the Mattoon site has had its challenges, it remains a viable site for developing a project.
This project is scheduled to start in Ash Grove Township south of Windsor and run through Moultrie into Coles County. Navitas had talked about putting 40 of the wind turbines on approximately 5,000 acres. The company did a study and the results of that study showed the wind speeds must be sufficient to support that many turbines. A deal has already been completed to sell the energy generated from these turbines to Ameren CIPS in Mattoon. Initially Navitas said these wind turbines, which will cost approximately $2 million each to construct, will be 300 feet tall with a base 15 feet in diameter.
The company would lease the needed land from the owners in the area and would compensate the landowners with $4-5,000 for that land each year. The life of the project would be 50 to 60 years.
The project manager for Iberdrola, Javier Cena said his company has just acquired the Mattoon project and haven’t started any development yet.
“We are really interested in this project, and of course, that is why we purchased this project,” said Cena.
County Board Chairman, George Frazier said there is legislation pending that would spell out what counties can assess wind farms in taxes.
“The assessment on these wind farms turbines would be uniform from county to county,” said Frazier. “That would, in my opinion, be a great asset to Shelby
Frazier went on to say if the state sets the level of assessment, Shelby County will accept those levels.
“In fact, I don’t think we would have an option.”
Patty Schuh, spokesperson for Senator Frank Watson (R-51st District) said that bill which is Senate bill 698 is a work in progress.
“That is what we call a shell bill with no language in it at this time, but the details are being worked out,” said Schuh.
Iberdrola has indicated they will be holding a meeting to introduce Iberdrola to Shelby County sometime in the next month.
By Frank Mulholland
Daily Union Managing Editor
22 March 2007
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