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Meeting to look at wind farm 'what ifs'  

MONMOUTH – Wind farms one day likely will be common on the west-central Illinois landscape. Wind farms are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to eliminating America’s dependence on oil and fossil fuels.

The latest estimate shows ethanol will replace about 10 percent of that oil dependence.

What county officials want to examine is what will happen if a company constructs a wind farm and abandons the turbines along with the rest of the operation.

That is the purpose of a Warren County Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission meeting set for 7 p.m. Aug. 14.

The session will be held in the County Board meeting room on the first floor of the Warren County Courthouse.

A number of counties are looking at who will get stuck with the cost in such a case.

Wind energy systems are coming to Warren County, but the purpose of the meeting is to discuss what measures should be taken to protect the county. The zoning board and plan commission want feedback from the public regarding the issue.

Warren County Board Chairman Bill Reichow said at least one company wants to construct a wind farm in Warren County.

Reichow said there are spots across the county that would be ideal for wind farms.

However, county officials want to be prepared for all the “what ifs” before wind turbines begin to sprout up in the region.

The meeting is not to discuss whether or not to allow wind farms. County officials said that issue must be addressed when companies apply for permits to construct and operate a wind farm here.

Wind farms are popping up in rural areas in Henry and Mercer counties along with other counties in the region.

Local, state and federal officials know wind farms are here to stay. More than 2,400 megawatts of wind generation – enough to serve more than 650,000 homes – were installed in the United States last year.

President George W. Bush said in a news conference he believes wind energy can provide as much as 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, according to a recent federal report on alternative fuel and power sources.

Most of the Midwest is ripe for wind energy. A number of companies have ranked the top 20 states that are ideal for wind farms. Iowa ranks 10th, Michigan ranks 14th, Illinois ranks 16th, Wisconsin ranks 18th and Missouri ranks 20th.

North Dakota, Texas, Kansas, South Dakota, and Montana are the top five states for wind energy.

Members of the zoning board/plan commission want residents to attend the public meeting to discuss the side issues of wind farms. Both panels are hoping for a large turnout.

By Stacey Creasy

Daily Review-Atlas

27 July 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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