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Wind firms amenable to fee change

Two firms who plan to build wind farms in Henry County have basically agreed to a change in how they will pay building fees for wind turbines in the county.

One representative from Invenergy and three from British Petroleum attended a hearing in Cambridge Wednesday night, and agreed that the building fees could be based on “nameplate capacity” rather than cost.

Demand has driven the turbines’ cost up.

Nameplate capacity refers to output during high winds; actual output is 25 to 35 of the nameplate capacity.

The representative from the third company active in the county, Iberdrola, sent word that he also supported the revision, stating a $7,000 building permit fee for a 2-megawatt tower would not deter the firm from moving forward with plans.

With the change, the wind energy companies will pay $6,775 for building permits for the 1.5 megawatt turbines – a typical size – plus $50 for each additional .1 megawatt up to and including two megawatts.

The change will now to go the county board on June 10.

Earlier this month, BP notified the county that they’ve hired Roger Brown of Macomb, formerly with Western Illinois University’s Institute for Rural Affairs, as their Illinois state developer for alternative energy. Brown has 33 years experience in energy development including petroleum exploration and production. He was also involved initially in getting the first towers to test wind volume here near Hillcrest Home.

He said this week he is currently working on several projects around the state.

Representatives from Invenergy and Iberdrola said earlier that their delay in the Henry County wind projects was caused by a logjam at the Midwest Independent Service Operator (MISO) system that works on tying wind-generated electricity to the national grid. According to BP, the good news is that MISO is now proposing a milestone-based queue rather than first-come, first-served, and firms with proven track records can move faster through the process.

The county may also raise fees for any zoning variance from $300 to $400, special use permits from $350 to $450 and map amendments from $350 to $450. According to the county, the fee for a $100,000 construction project would increase from $535 to $634, compared to $639.50 in Geneseo and $892.50 in Rock Island County.

The fee for projects under $1,000 would remain $40. There was no public comment during Wednesday’s hearing on those changes.

By Lisa Hammer
Of The Star Courier


23 May 2008