EL PASO – With recent talk of a wind farm to be located in and near this community, its City Council held a meeting Saturday to hear the opinions of those who might be most affected.
“People are just unaware of what is going on around us,” Mayor Herb Arbuckle said. “I’d like to try and get some information out about it.”
At an informational meeting held in February for the proposed El Paso wind farm, Wanda Davies of Navitas Energy explained her company’s interest in building a 40-turbine wind farm on the west side of Interstate 39 about one mile north and three miles south of U.S. Route 24. Ten turbines would be in El Paso and 30 would be in Palestine Township.
Prior to the meeting Saturday, Arbuckle was concerned the council and residents had only heard one side of the story.
“The thing that’s the most disturbing to me is, nobody knows anything about it” said Hudson resident Bill Preller.
No one from Navitas Energy attended the meeting, which began at 7 a.m. at City Hall.
Preller said he spoke to officials in Normal and Congerville about the White Oak Wind Energy Center, for which the McLean County Board recently approved special use permits. He said they thought the White Oak project would only be near Carlock and had no idea that areas of their communities would also be affected. Approval for the project will soon be sought in Woodford County as well.
Preller told the small group at the meeting about issues concerning property setbacks and ice throws that could affect the wind farm location.
“In Woodford County the required setback is 750 feet from an occupied dwelling; that’s the language,” he said, adding that the setback for businesses and restaurants is only 450 feet.
Preller said General Electric Inc., a renowned wind turbine manufacturer, acknowledged that ice can be thrown up to 1,000 feet from turbine blades, which means Woodford County’s setback requirement puts nearby homes and businesses at risk.
Preller suggested El Paso council members talk to Woodford County Zoning Board and County Board members.
“I don’t think the County Board should be able to tell you what to do with your community,” he said.
Rhonda Baer of Carlock agreed. She said her community has been torn apart by strong opinions both for and against the wind farm.
“In a small community, unity is what keeps you going,” she said.
25 March 2007
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