Michael Arndt believes the community is eyeing a nice financial windfall in the alternative energy facility his company is proposing.
Arndt, of Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC, told the outgoing Marseilles City Council Wednesday evening his company will initially construct 66 wind turbines and a maintenance facility in Brookfield Township this coming fall.
“This phase will be a $130 million investment,” he said.
When completed, the project will be the fourth largest wind farm in North America, Arndt said.
About 150 construction workers will be employed on the project. The turbines will take six to nine months to build, and begin operation in 2008.
The fuel to run the turbines is free, Arndt said. Each turbine will produce enough electricity to supply 400 homes.
“Wind turbines don’t pollute the atmosphere,” he said. “This is the cleanest source of power available.”
Grand Ridge Wind Energy Center will extend from the Illinois National Guard Training Site – which annexed to the city of Marseilles several years ago – south to the north edge of Allen Township near Ransom, and west about one mile into the east end of Grand Rapids Township.
This eventually will be a $700 million project located across 25,000 acres of farmland. About 40 acres of farmland will be taken up by the turbines, with the rest of the acreage capable of remaining in agricultural production.
Construction will be in several phases, with 233 turbines in place when the project is completed. The turbines will be spaced 2,500 feet apart. Each turbine will consist of a 262-foot tower and 143-foot blades.
An open house to introduce the proposal to the public will be Wednesday, June 20, at the Marseilles Lions Club on Commercial Street. Hours will be 1 to 3:30 p.m., and 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Arndt told the council La Salle County is the right place to host a wind farm. He said Allen, Brookfield, Grand Rapids and Otter Creek townships have high wind readings, existing electricity transmission lines, open farmland, and willing landowners and local governmental partners.
He said the company will have a 25-year lease agreement with the landowners, which could perhaps be extended to about 35 years.
The land does not need to be rezoned – just a special use permit from the county is needed, he said.
The city of Marseilles will not have a direct benefit from the wind farm in the form of property taxes. However, some tax money will go to the Marseilles Rural Fire Protection District, which serves the area.
The facility will employ about six permanent operators and probably two administrative personnel, Arndt said.
“We will be a member of the community here,” he noted.
He said visitors are fascinated by wind farms, and he expected the city to receive some benefit from tourists coming to view the facility.
When completed, the wind farm will generate more than $2.3 million in taxes annually for area taxing entities. Farmers on whose land the wind turbines are sited will receive more than $1.6 million annually in royalty payments from the company.
Invenergy Wind has $1.1 billion in assets, and has purchased 1,500 wind turbines from General Electric for installation this year and next year. The company is developing wind projects in more than 20 states, Canada, and Europe, he said.
The council did not comment on the project, as it is outside the city’s jurisdiction.
By Jo Ann Hustis
3 May 2007
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