PPM Energy is spreading the word about its Livingston and LaSalle County wind farm project at a series of open houses, but reaction from the audience was divided.
Representatives from PPM were available Wednesday night at Dwight Township High School. The last of the three events will be today in Pontiac.
“We like to answer questions and I think the county likes us to answer some of the public’s questions,” PPM communications director Jan Johnson said. “We like talking about it and we really want to make everything convenient for the residents. That is why we are having these open houses.”
The events include displays outlining the Portland Ore.-based company’s plan, which has been in development for about two and a half years, PPM project developer Jesper Michaelsen said. PPM plans to build about 450 turbines scattered across 46,000 acres in Livingston and LaSalle counties.
The wind farm, dubbed the Streator-Cayuga Ridge Wind Farm, would create 10 to 15 permanent jobs and offer 200 construction jobs per 100 turbines. They also will pay about $34 million to $45 million in property tax revenue, per 100 turbines, over the wind farm’s lifespan of 25 years.
PPM biologist Sara Parsons said the wind farm complies with standards regarding avian and bat fatalities and noise regulations.
People at the open house offered different opinions about the wind farm as they crowded around displays and maps.
“I love it, and I think it is a great step from getting away from foreign oil,” said Bob Loftus, a Yorkville resident who also owns farmland in LaSalle and Livingston counties. “Helping us not rely on foreign oil is just one of the benefits that come with the wind farm. The more (turbines), the merrier.”
“This is the most radical change to happen to the prairie since the John Deere plow turned it into agriculture,” said Livingston County Board candidate Judy Campbellof Blackstone. “My fear is that there will be a brand-new trail of tears as rural residents leave the area.”
The next open house will be at 7 p.m. today at Pontiac Township High School.
By Tony Sapochetti
28 February 2008
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