The Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals approved a proposed wind farm Wednesday, dealing a blow to opponents who hoped to stop the project.
“Obviously, we’re not happy with it,” said Delavan resident Beverly Egli, whose home will be surrounded by wind towers in the Rail Splitter Wind Farm, proposed by Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC.
The board deliberated for three hours before unanimously approving special use permits for the project that will cover more than 11,000 acres of farmland straddling Tazewell and Logan counties just east of Interstate 155.
“We’re ready to sell our house and I don’t think we’ll be able to sell our house,” said her husband, Rod Egli.
The towers each will be 389 feet tall, and 38 of the 67 towers will be in Tazewell County.
Opponents have said the towers will decrease property values, create hazards for crop dusters and ruin the landscape.
“There aren’t enough words,” Delavan resident Christy Parr said of her disappointment after the final vote. “It’s such a bigger deal than anybody in this county understands.”
Supporters have said the towers will bring in needed property taxes for the rural area and create a clean source of energy.
Project Development Manager Bill Whitlock and attorneys for Horizon did not attend the meeting Wednesday night. Whitlock told the Journal Star by phone after the meeting he was happy with the board’s decision.
“We’re extremely gratified and extremely excited about moving forward with the project and mending fences with our neighbors,” Whitlock said, referring to the bitter battle between both sides that played out during numerous public hearings.
Horizon will sell energy to AmerenCILCO that will power about 30,000 homes in Illinois.
The project will be the second central Illinois wind farm development for Horizon, which operates the Twin Groves wind farm just east of Bloomington.
The total cost of the wind farm is expected to be between $175 million and $200 million.
The full Tazewell County Board will now vote to approve or deny the project’s road use agreement and decommissioning plan. If the County Board denies either, the special use permits won’t be issued until an agreement is reached.
By Kevin Sampier
5 June 2008
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