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Two wind farms closer to reality; Bureau, Putnam County Enterprise Zone to expand

The governor announced an expansion of the Bureau and Putnam County Enterprise Zone on Monday, a move that should clear some final hurdles for construction of two wind farms.

The enterprise zone, which allows income and job creation tax credits to companies that build within it, will be extended by a total of 18.2 acres for Midwest Wind Energy’s Big Sky and Crescent Ridge II wind farms.

The certification additionally includes sales tax exemptions on building materials to be used within the zone and a $500 credit on state income taxes for each job created. Eleven new permanent, full-time jobs are expected between the two farms.

“Typically, the developers tell us if they can’t get in an enterprise zone, they’ll go elsewhere,” said Cassie Jeffery, community development director for the North Central Illinois Council of Governments, which helped orchestrate the expansion. “They’re going to bring in jobs, so we want that benefit.”

The Crescent Ridge II project includes 42 turbines that are projected to produce 75 megawatts per year to the northwest and south of the company’s original Crescent Ridge wind farm in rural Tiskilwa.

The Bureau County Board approved that second-phase, $100 million project late last year, though Midwest Wind Energy has stalled construction because of tax assessment issues in the county. The status of the project was not immediately available Monday.

The Big Sky wind farm would be nearly three times the size of the second Crescent Ridge installment, spread out between Bureau and Lee counties. The project calls for 57 of the total 125 planned turbines to be erected near the village of Ohio in northeastern Bureau County.

That project – at an estimated $300 million and 200 megawatts per year – was approved by Bureau County last summer, though a construction schedule has been delayed because of the same county tax issue.

By Matt Buedel

Journal Star

7 August 2007