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Livingston residents question developers of proposed wind farm  

Residents with a variety of opinions about wind farms got the chance Tuesday night to question the developers of the proposed Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm.

While some asked representatives of Portland Ore.-based PPM Energy about how much tax money will pour into local coffers and how many jobs will be created, others expressed fears that a wind farm would threaten health and property values.

“Right now, we are considering moving,” Cheryl Tate of Blackstone said after the questioning concluded. She said she is new to the area and her family is distressed by the idea of living near a wind farm.

PPM presented its case to the Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals Monday night. Tuesday’s meeting was a time to ask questions, and tonight’s meeting will allow the public to present arguments. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Pontiac Township High School.

In first phase of the Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm, 155 turbines would be scattered across 15,000 acres east of Interstate 55 and between the communities of Odell and Emington. More would be built later to the north and into LaSalle County, bringing the total number of turbines to 450.

Saunemin Mayor Mike Stoecklin asked a series of questions about how much money various taxing bodies would receive from the placement of turbines.

PPM Project Developer Jesper Michaelsen read off various figures, often going into the hundreds of thousands or millions for the various districts during the wind farm’s 20-to-25-year lifespan. Several members of the audience applauded the amounts cited.

Tate’s questions involved the health aspects of wind farms and whether noise levels would cause seizures or interfere with cardiac pacemakers.

PPM biologist Sara Parsons said there are no health concerns regarding epilepsy, and panelists said there also are no direct effects on people with heart conditions.

Other questions revolved around money.

Livingston County Board member Carolyn Gerwin, who said she would ask questions personally and not as a member of the board, asked whether PPM can guarantee to landowners and the taxing bodies would benefit from the wind farm.

Michaelsen said PPM would put money in an escrow account to guarantee covering the cost of decommissioning the plant, any associated highway construction and other costs to taxing bodies for the lifespan of the wind farm.

When asked about fire safety of the wind turbines, PPM’s director of operations, Scott Winneguth, said new technology in turbines since 2000 has decreased the chances of fires. He said PPM officials and local fire departments would be able to handle such a situation.

Chris Spanos, attorney for the law firm of Hinshaw and Culbertson in Peoria, said he represented the group People Protecting Cayuga Ridge. He asked for the opportunity to present expert witnesses at future hearings for PPM’s second phase.

By Tony Sapochetti

Bloomington Pantagraph

30 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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