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County discusses details of lease for wind farm

MONMOUTH – The Warren County Board on Wednesday met with Clean Energy Concepts of Iowa and Red Rock Financial of New York to review the option and ground lease proposed to the county for wind turbines on Warren County farm ground.

“It’s not a lock until there’s a final vote,” said Warren County Board Chairman Bill Reichow. “We’ve been in negotiations with them for some time. It’s now coming to a head.”

Reichow said the board won’t take action on the lease proposal until its October meeting, at the earliest.

The wind farm, which will hold three turbines, will only take up three acres of the 186 acres on county property in the proposed lease. Robert Gates, president of Red Rock Financial, said the remaining 183 acres would be able to be farmed for whatever the county wants.

The county would retain ownership of the farm. Even though the land is county owned, Clean Energy Concepts will pay property taxes on the three acres.

Jolene Willis, executive director of Western Illinois Economic Development Partnership, said that by building a wind farm, the county would be able to supply cheaper power to local residents.

Each windmill would stand 440 feet tall. Also, the windmills would produce 20 megawatts of energy, as opposed to the larger 100 megawatt turbines.

Red Rock, the lessee, would be in charge of any upgrades, repairs and decommissioning of the roads leading to the windmills.

The county would receive, according to the 40-year lease, $1,000 in signing the lease and a minimum $6,250 per tower annually in lease payments once the turbines are operational or 3 percent of gross revenue in the sale of the wind-generated electricity, whichever figure is larger.

County revenues are estimated to be $36,000 per year as its share of the energy sales.

The 40-year lease is meant to cover the 40-year projected life of each windmill.

“We are bringing tax revenues to the county with a new, minimally invasive process,” said Gates.

Diana Winterhalter of Clean Energy Concepts told the board the company plans to use as much local materials and labor as possible.

“We are going to try and do a local project here with this,” said Winterhalter.

A fourth structure, a “met tower,” would be built to help gather information about the county’s wind speeds. The building would be torn down after the windmills are built, in about two years.

Willis said that by having the wind farm, Warren County could attract other companies to build wind farms or related industrial buildings.

Reichow went even further, saying that if Warren County is going to build a wind farm, why not try and bring in industry that can manufacture wind farms.

Warren County also is looking at teaming up with Knox and Mercer counties on a wind farm in the Northeast part of Warren County with British Petroleum.

By Stephen Geinosky


20 September 2007