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Wind Turbine Study Group issues report

After nearly eight months of meetings and discussion, the Champaign County Wind Turbine Study Group issued a report Wednesday outlining the results of the group’s research and analysis of 14 issues related to the potential for wind power development locally.

“The report contains neither draft model legislation nor a recommendation for or against endorsement of wind turbines,” said Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio, who chaired the WTSG. “The WTSG wants local decision-makers to utilize this report as part of the total consideration process when or if their particular jurisdiction contemplates taking legislative or regulatory action with regard to wind energy development.”

The group was formed in September of 2007 with representatives from township and county government, industry, agriculture and community activists. Including Selvaggio, members are Champaign County Engineer Fereidoun Shokouhi, Mike Pullins and Mike Speerschneider of Everpower Renewables, Union Township Trustee Jim Virts, Wayne Township Trustee Grant Johnson, Champaign County Farm Bureau members Jason Dagger and Jon Berry, Union Neighbors United members Julie Johnson, Diane McConnell and UNU attorney Christopher A. Walker.

“In general, we thought it was a very constructive process,” said Speerschneider. “We were pleased to be able to help with that, contribute information … and engage in a healthy debate. That’s the main benefit of the process.”

Johnson agreed.

“There’s a great deal of information in the report and new information is becoming available every day,” she said. “It’s very comprehensive.”

The study group was able to make recommendations to assist government agencies, but had no authority to tackle topics such as zoning, which is the domain of the townships.

Instead, the group focused on concerns about safety, setbacks and nuisance issues that would affect quality of life and property values. The report contains

sections on aesthetics, blade throw, decommissioning, economic development potential, environmental impacts, lighting, fire and emergency response, ice shedding, noise, road infrastructure, shadow flicker, telecommunications interference, turbine collapse and vandalism.

“On behalf of Union Neighbors United, we were glad that the report confirms the inadequacy of the current Union Township zoning regulations, and we hope the zoning board will take a close look at this report,” Johnson said. “We were particularly pleased that the issue of use of property lines for setbacks was addressed as well as establishing an acceptable noise standard of five decibels above a pre-construction baseline measurement.”

Selvaggio said the report was mailed to all township trustees, as well as the Champaign County commissioners, Wayne and Union township zoning commissions, the Champaign County Community Improvement Corporation and the Logan-Union-Champaign (LUC) Regional Planning Commission.

“While this document will not settle the debate, it will most certainly assist our citizenry in determining what is in the best interests of the Champaign County community where wind energy comes to mind,” Selvaggio said.

“Hopefully, it will help the decision makers to recognize the issues,” Speerschneider said. “We think the project can be a great benefit to the area and we want to develop it in a responsible manner.”

The full document is available for download from the LUC Web site at www.lucplanning.com and is also available for viewing at the Champaign County Library.

Breanne Parcels
Staff Writer

Thr Urbana Daily Citizen

22 May 2008