It was standing room only as residents of Wayne Township, as well as a few from other areas, attended the Wayne Township Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday to get information regarding wind turbines.
Kevin Sheen, vice president of Everpower Renewables, was present to answer the many questions the residents raised. Everpower Renewables is a New York-based company that also is courting land owners in Union Township for wind turbine development.
Those present expressed concerns regarding the height of the turbines, where they will be placed, how the machines operate and the benefits and hardships the community would reap by having wind farms.
Concerning the size of the turbines, some in the meeting expressed confusion as the height has been reported in the media from between 100 to 550 feet.
Sheen said that 100 feet was on the short side and 550 feet a little on the tall side. In general, he said, they are typically 400 to 425 feet tall.
Sheen stressed it is not concrete whether a wind project will be constructed in Champaign County. First, he said, studies will be done to see where the wind potential is, then the company will survey the land for structural impact.
As an example Sheen said: “John Doe’s farm could be ideal, but his land lies where there are too many (required) setbacks, so John Doe’s farm can’t be used.”
Sheen said that due to setback requirements, turbines won’t be clustered on one landowner’s property. He said they also won’t be spread out to the point they don’t maximize the wind resources. He estimated one turbine to about 60 acres.
He added that soil conditions play a role in the placement of turbines.
As of yet, Everpower doesn’t know where turbines should be placed, he said, adding a minimum of one year’s worth of wind testing will be done before the company starts making solid plans.
Sheen was asked many technical questions about the operation of the turbines, but he said he is not qualified to answer them as he is not one of the engineers who works on them.
He also could not say how much power generated by the turbines will go back to Wayne Township.
Benefits for the community, he said, would be the creation of jobs. In the short term, construction jobs would be available. According to Sheen, Everpower tries to hire as much local help as it can, except for the specialized operations like working the large cranes. He also said the a staff of three to six people would be required for full-time maintenance.
The structures will bring tax revenue into the area, he said, although he was unable to speculate how much tax money would be generated.
Sheen said he would see about providing an information center in the Wayne Township Hall and the Champaign County Library.
Another information meeting for Wayne Township was scheduled for May 23 at 7 p.m. in the township hall.
By Shaun Dunlap
26 April 2007
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