In Carroll County, the answers are blowing in the wind.
EcoEnergy, a wind energy company, is interested in building 60 to 100 electricity-generating wind turbines in eastern Carroll and western Ogle counties.
“If you just drive down (state Route 72) through Shannon, you would see why Carroll County is good for wind power,” said Wes Slaymaker, director of wind development for EcoEnergy. “It is open, high and has good wind speed.”
In addition to being a clean energy source, a wind farm could be lucrative for the county and for area landowners, said Dave Keiser, Carroll County economic development director.
“Depending on how things are assessed, there could be a $1 million annual impact on the county,” Keiser said.
Although any construction is still about two years away, work already has begun to win over residents and landowners.
“We will need to do what we have done in Stephenson County,” Slaymaker said. “We are ramping up to do a lot of education and tours of other wind farms.” (EcoEnergy is also involved with windmill projects in Stephenson and Jo Daviess counties, and in southern Wisconsin.)
The company held a meeting last week at the Carroll County Farm Bureau to give landowners the opportunity to ask questions and learn about wind power.
“Naturally, there is a little hesitance, and there were a lot of questions,” Keiser said.
Landowners who may be apprehensive about 400-foot-tall, 1.5 megawatt turbines in their fields might be swayed by the potential income. “In the industry, per turbine, per year, the payments are between $4,000 and $6,000,” Slaymaker said.
Wind towers typically take up about a half acre of land in a farm field for a tower and the service road to it.
One tower is capable of providing enough electricity to support 400 homes for one year. Although windmills will not necessarily mean more affordable electricity for folks in Carroll County, it will mean more clean energy being produced cheaply in the area.
By Andrew Walters
27 April 2007
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