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Wind farm developers tout energy source

Wind farm developers were given the opportunity Monday to present their reasons for having turbines dot Livingston County.

The first public hearing on the PPM Energy proposal took place Monday night at the Pontiac Township High School. The hearing will continue at 7 p.m. today.

The Portland, Ore.-based company that recently was acquired by Iberdola, presented its case in front of the Livingston County Zoning Board of Appeals and more than 100 residents.

“I am proud to present you with a clean and renewable energy source that we believe is the wave of the future,” PPM environmental attorney Claire Manning said. “Just as rural Livingston County has farmed another renewable resource over the years, the land, we would like to be able to farm the wind.”

In PPM’s Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm Project, 155 turbines would be scattered across 15,000 acre. The location would be east of Interstate 55 and between the communities of Odell and Emington.

Ninety families have agreed to put turbines on their property, officials said, adding that 99 percent of the farmland in the wind farm area still will be farmable.

Project developer Jesper Michaelsen said Livingston County has proved to have good winds, a compatible land area, access to existing transmission lines and power markets and community support.

Michaelsen said the wind farm would create hundreds of construction jobs and 15 to 23 permanent jobs. Millions of dollars also would be brought back into the county government, school districts, park districts and other taxing bodies through wind farm property taxes.

PPM environmental scientist Matthew Becker said the bird and bat population would not be affected because the number of turbine-related deaths would not be biologically significant.

PPM telecommunications expert Les Polisky said the turbines would not have an affect on AM-FM radio, wireless Internet or commercial microwave transmission signals. However, he did say that it could have a slight modulation affect on antenna-based television signals.

“If a problem does occur with television signals, then there is mitigation in place that can allow people to switch to a higher rate of reception, cable or satellite television,” he said.

PPM noise specialist Greg Zak said the noise studies done are in compliance with both county and state regulations, and there should not be a problem with daytime or nighttime noise.

Real estate appraiser Michael Crowley said a study conducted in four states showed there was no indication of wind farms affecting surrounding properties. However, Crowley said there were at least two homes in Livingston County where occupants moved because of the possible wind farm.

The Streator-Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm actually would be half of PPM’s total wind farm proposal. The wind farm in its entirety would include 450 turbines.

A public hearing for the other half will be set in the future.

The public hearing will continue Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Pontiac Township High School Auditorium, where the public will get to have their say in the matter.

By Tony Sapochetti

Bloomington Pantagraph

29 April 2008