One of the two wind-energy companies interested in bringing 180 turbines to Ford County has secured long-term leases with landowners for about 2,400 acres of farmland east of Paxton.
“We have signed over 2,400 acres and expect another 2,000 in the next two or three weeks,” said Joe Borkowski, development manager for E.On Climate & Renewables, which is targeting the east side of Paxton for the development of 100 wind turbines.
The 25-year lease agreements outline the compensation landowners would receive for allowing E.On Climate & Renewables – a division of a Germany-based company with offices in Chicago – to install and operate wind farms on the land, Borkowski said.
About 40 landowners in Button Township are being asked to sign lease agreements with Borkowski’s company, he said. Some have been contacted already, Borkowski said, while “others will soon be asked to consider becoming part of this.”
E.On Climate & Renewables is planning to build a 150- megawatt wind farm in a 25-square-mile area spanning from Ford County Road 100 North to the Ford-Iroquois County line, and from Stockholm Road on Paxton’s east edge to Clarence.
A smaller wind-energy company – Stewardship Energy LLC, based in Bureau County – is also planning to develop turbines east of Paxton. The project manager, Ross Johnson of Sheldon, said several landowners have already signed preliminary cooperation agreements. The company plans to build an estimated 50 to 80 turbines on 4,700 to possibly 6,000 acres primarily south of Illinois 9 starting about two miles east of Paxton to near the Ford- Vermilion County line.
No leases have been signed, however, because “we’re not trying to pin anyone in a corner,” Johnson said.
Matt Kaufmann, president of Stewardship Energy, said his company hopes to sign long-term lease agreements with about 30 landowners within three to five months.
Kaufmann said he already received a “strong commitment” from landowners for the lease of 1,500 to 2,000 acres.
Johnson said some landowners outside the proposed boundaries are also interested.
Stewardship Energy plans to finalize the boundaries of its project – including where access roads and turbines would likely be located – before asking landowners to sign leases.
The two companies plan to build their projects simultaneously, likely starting after harvest in fall 2010. The projects would take several months to complete.
By Will Brumleve
4 June 2008
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