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Wind power coming to southern Illinois?

The Marion city council approved a study on building a wind farm outside of town. It’s still a ways off, right now, those proposing the idea will simply investigate whether it’s even feasible. But it could mean clean energy and more revenue for the city.

Marion leaders first started hearing about this proposal last September. Robert Barnfield, a local engineer, has been pushing for research. He hopes to bring in wind farms similar to the ones in Northern and Central Illinois. For years those wind farms remained absent from southern Illinois. Because unlike areas upstate, there wasn’t enough wind down here to generate a usable amount of energy.

“They’ve got the windmills that will operate with less wind than was originally necessary, so there’s a possibility that it will work here,” said Marion commissioner J. W. Rix.

Monday night the Marion city council heard the proposal to begin researching wind energy. Using city land near Sugar Creek the study will take about a year to complete.

“They’re doing one of these at Carbondale now, using an existing tower and all it is, is a little annomometer is all it is that they’re measuring for several months,” said Rix.

Government grants will pay for the research so the studies will come at no cost to the city.

“Well, it sounds like a pretty good proposition to me, we can get this done at no cost and with no liability,” said Marion Mayor Bob Butler.

The proposal passed unanimously and while there is no guarantee wind energy will be coming to southern Illinois. City leaders are optimistic.

“And there’s the possibility that this thing might develop into something worthwhile, where the city might pick up some revenue,” said Butler.

Barnfield says he’s been working with several state leaders before coming to the city council. He says he already has the support of local congressmen. And that John A. Logan college will also be in the mix.

By Ryan Kruger

wsiltv.com

15 April 2008