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Wind farm sits in limbo

MONMOUTH – Clean Energy Concepts must wait until they reach a land lease agreement with an unnamed landowner before moving constructing the county’s wind farm.

“We’re in a holding pattern until we get the land secured,” said Matt Cumberworth, managing director for CEC. “It’s hard to pinpoint a time frame (for completion) because we’re in April and we hoped to have it done in February.”

Jolene Willis, Western Illinois Economic Development Partnership director, said construction is estimated to be completed in 2010.

“We’re still monitoring (the wind farm) on behalf of Warren County,” Willis said. “Right now it’s going through (CEC’s) due diligence and due process.”

Due to the sensitivity of purchasing land, CEC is forced to be secretive about where exactly they stand with the landowner adjacent to the county farm.

“We want to be as generic as we can so we don’t step on anyone’s toes,” Cumberworth said. “We’re at a real sensitive point right now.”

What Cumberworth could say is the county’s portion of the land agreement is completed and CEC is now working on assessments.

“Right now we’re just at the critical point,” Cumberworth said.

For the wind assessments, CEC is looking to see if there is enough wind speed at the appropriate height that is needed.

CEC is also completing environmental assessments, including endangered species studies, archeological studies, wetland studies and avian studies.

“They are to see what impact the towers will have on the area,” Cumberworth said. “If they are disrupting, we’ll have to talk with the state to see what can be done.”

A third party completes the assessments. Cumberworth was unable to give the names of the groups due to confidentiality agreements between CEC and the third parties.

CEC is also in the process of completing transmission studies to see how they are going to send the power out to customers.

Once all land lease agreements are met, CEC will then be able to finish its power purchase agreement.

“We cannot enter an agreement until we can prove we have the land and a wind assessment,” Cumberworth said.

By Stephen Geinosky/Staff Reporter

Daily Review Atlas

23 April 2008