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Wind farm proposal outlined  

The first part of a public hearing dedicated to the southernmost part of PPM Energy’s proposed Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Project was spent by company officials outlining their plan.

The Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing, in the Pontiac Township High School auditorium, will continue at 7 p.m. today, when public input is expected.

The proposed wind farm calls for as many as 450 turbines to be erected across 46,000 acres stretching from a point east of Streator and south of Ransom down to about six miles north of Pontiac, west of Odell near Interstate 55. The overall project is made up of three smaller projects; the southernmost one involving 155 turbines to be generally located in 15,000 acres between Odell and Emington is what the public hearing is addressing. There will be separate public hearings for the other two parts of the project.

In addition to the 155 turbines, the southernmost part of the project also will include a substation, an operations and maintenance building, gravel access roads, two permanent meteorological towers and above- and below-ground power lines, said Mike Massie, a member of the project’s legal team. The project plan is consistent with Livingston County’s 2020 comprehensive plan to preserve prime agricultural land, he said.

Per ordinance, there would be a buffer zone of at least 1,200 feet between each turbine and any residence. Massie called that “a very adequate setback.”

He also noted there are areas where turbines can’t be placed because communication lines already are installed there.

“There’s a significant amount of the 15,000 acres where we can’t put turbines because of regulations,” Massie said.

Ninety-nine percent of farmland in the project area will continue to be farmed, he said.

“In fact, it will be less than 1 percent of farmland that’s taken,” Massie said.

The wind farm will create enough energy for 97,000 households, almost seven times the number in Livingston County, he said.

The project would create about 300 construction jobs and 15 to 23 permanent, locally-based operation jobs, said project developer Jesper Michaelsen.

Outside experts were consulted for avian and bat flight studies, sound emission studies, property value assessments, environmental and communication studies, land use planning and soil and water evaluations, Michaelsen said.

The project is pending approval by the Livingston County Board, but PPM Energy hopes to start building nonturbine parts of the project in fall. Michaelsen said the company wants to start constructing turbines around this time next year so the wind farm can go online in fall 2009.

The wind farm is expected to bring in as much as $4 million in property tax revenue during its first year of operation, Michaelsen said. Over the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm, $52 million to $70 million in property tax revenue is expected, he said.

Craig Wieczorkiewicz

The Times

29 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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