The proposed El Paso Wind farm was touted Wednesday night as a project that would provide jobs during construction and boost tax revenue by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
The Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals heard testimony from wind farm developers. The project, proposed by Navitas Energy of Minneapolis, would include 40 wind turbines on the west side of Interstate 39 and extend one mile north and three miles south of U.S. Route 24.
If the ZBA permits a special- use land permit for the turbines on land currently zoned for agriculture, the farm would cover 2,943 acres and have an annual generating capacity of 210,000 megawatt-hours, enough to supply electricity to 24,000 homes.
Navitas Energy project developer Wanda Davies gave a presentation to the board and about 40 people in the audience explaining how a wind farm operates and the potential benefits to the community.
Davies estimated that upon completion the wind farm would likely bring in $450,000-$500,000 a year in tax revenue for El Paso. However, legislation about how to assess the taxation of wind farms is pending in Springfield, making it difficult to determine exact numbers.
Done Dison, project construction manager for Gamesa Corp., the Italian company that owns Navitas, testified construction of the wind farm will benefit the community by creating jobs.
“The fact is that we will create around 60 jobs during the construction of the wind farm,” Dison said. He added Navitas will try to hire local workers and use local materials in construction.
Robert Eisenmann of El Paso asked if any studies had been done on how other wind farms have affected property values of residences close to the turbines.
Michael Crowley, a real estate appraiser contracted by Navitas, said, “There appears to be no significant adverse affect on values of surrounding properties.”
Crowley said his office in Spring Valley has conducted studies for the past six years using real estate data from areas surrounding wind farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
The ZBA canceled today’s meeting after finishing the first part of the hearings Wednesday.
Those who signed in Wednesday as interested parties will have the opportunity to submit evidence and present witnesses when the hearings resume Aug. 7. Those wishing to present such material must submit it to the zoning board by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
By Fitzgerald M. Doubet
26 July 2007
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