FREEPORT – A lawsuit seeking to prevent the EcoGrove Wind LLC wind farm from being built northwest of Lena has been settled and dismissed from court.
Project officials say development is proceeding on the 100-megawatt wind farm and that construction is set to begin in spring 2008. EcoGrove Wind, which will likely include around 75 wind towers, is being built by Freeport-based EcoEnergy LLC, a division of The Morse Group.
“We’re excited to move forward with the EcoGrove wind energy project,” said EcoEnergy President Shawn Gaffney in a news release. “We believe that EcoGrove and the ‘green’ energy it will produce will be good not only for the environment, but also for the area’s economy and the community itself.”
Information on the terms of the settlement were not available Monday. The case had been assigned to Judge Robert Hanson in Ogle County.
“From what I understand, the terms were going to be somewhat held close to the vest because of the other lawsuit,” said Stephenson County Board Vice Chairman Jim Graham.
Frank Cook, the county’s special assistant state’s attorney, said the parties involved were able to come to “an understanding,” which happens in all settlements. He said he was not sure of the details of the settlement.
“Any time a lawsuit goes away, it’s a good thing,” Cook said.
Navitas Suit Pending
Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit against the Lancaster Wind Farm LLC project proposed for the Dakota area by Navitas Energy of Minneapolis is still pending, said Kevin Lindquist, a senior project developer for Navitas.
There is also a lawsuit pending against several controversial zoning changes approved by the county related to the wind farms.
Graham said the EcoGrove settlement is a step in the right direction. Now that the wind farm is moving forward, the county will likely receive significant revenue from the project in the form of permitting fees and enterprise zone fees, he said.
The County Board in November approved a 2007-2008 budget with around $850,000 in projected revenue from fees for the EcoGrove project.
“As we stated during our budget talks, we were very confident the EcoGrove project was going to move forward,” Graham said.
County Board Chairman John Blum praised both sides in this lawsuit for settling the issue without the use of litigation.
The county’s goal, he said, is to encourage wind-farm developers and property owners to work out their differences ahead of time, and to avoid lawsuits in the future.
By Travis Morse
24 December 2007
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