A massive wind farm project scheduled for rural Christian and Montgomery counties whipped up a storm of interest in Taylorville on Monday night.
A two-hour open house to take questions on the project and sign up landowners was supposed to start at 5:30 p.m. but got under way early as people gathered outside the Taylorville Memorial Hospital auditorium, where the session was held.
Staff from Virginia-based power company Dominion was on hand to answer questions about the Prairie Fork Wind Farm, which could cover 25,000 acres in the Harvel, Raymond and Morrisonville area.
If it reaches its maximum size, the project might cost $600 million to build and involve up to 200 turbines, standing 350 feet high, that could be producing power by 2011. Dominion estimates the farm might churn out enough electricity to light 75,000 homes and would funnel that energy to the Kincaid coal-fired power station, which is also owned by Dominion.
The next stage will be extensive wind speed and direction tests using meteorological towers set up on local farms and land holdings. Landowners at Monday’s meeting could sign short-form leases to give Dominion access to their property. Later, when the size and scope of the wind farm is worked out precisely, landowners included will sign more comprehensive lease agreements.
Dominion says they will be paid annual fees of up to $4,000 a turbine, with additional fees paid for road access or having power lines and other equipment on their property. The potential tax income is estimated at $1 million a year for Christian and Montgomery counties.
“So far, it’s going very well and we’ve had several landowners sign up already,” said Diane Simon, senior business development manager for Dominion. “And we’re getting a lot of favorable response.”
Landowners were busy talking to Dominion representatives at banks of tables on Monday and the only glum faces in the room belonged to George and Barbara Jordan, who farm west of Mount Auburn. “We are too far north to be included,” said Barbara Jordan, 58. “We’re disappointed because we’re really interested in this.”
By Tony Reid
H&R Staff Writer
6 May 2008
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