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Wind farms sprouting up on central Illinois landscape  

Three more wind farms – each a utility-scale project with the potential for 100 to 150 towers – are in the works for central Illinois.

Trade Wind Energy, a Kansas-based alternative energy developer, confirmed the company has signed leases with landowners for two wind farms in DeWitt County and is in discussions for a third in Christian County.

The first two sites are east and west of Clinton, about 45 miles northeast of Springfield, and the third is north of Pana, 45 miles southeast of Springfield.

“We are substantially into the leasing process. We already have enough land there for a wind farm,” Trade Wind Energy development manager Duane Enger said of the negotiations in DeWitt County.

Enger said lease negotiations have only just begun for the site north of Pana, and that it is too soon to discuss a construction schedule for any of the projects. But he said all eventually would produce 100 to 150 megawatts of electricity.

A megawatt typically would supply 250 to 300 homes, according to industry standards.

Enger said, in addition to open expanses of farmland, three major transmission lines that run through the counties, including to the Clinton nuclear reactor, would make it easier to get power to the grid.

The Trade Wind Energy projects come a little more than two months after Virginia-based Dominion Corp. announced plans for a 25,000-acre wind farm and 150 to 200 wind turbines in southern Christian and northern Macoupin counties.

Dominion also is negotiating for land leases estimated by the company at $3,000 to $4,000 per year, per turbine.

Christian County Farm Bureau manager Eric Johnson said the wind developers have been generally well received.

“As long as the wind company offers good compensation and a good contract – most farmers are pretty open minded about it,” Johnson said.

Brian Fesser is among Christian County farmers approached by Dominion, but he said he has not decided whether to allow wind turbines on a 1,200-acre grain farm south of Taylorville that has been in his family for more than 50 years.

Money, he added, is not the only factor.

“It’s having to farm around the wind towers themselves. It’s just like mowing your lawn, the more trees you have, the more time it takes,” he said.

Trade Wind Energy has held meetings with Farm Bureau and elected officials in both counties, and Enger said company executives understand it is important to be “open and transparent” about development plans.

He said the company plans to open offices in the area as soon as possible.

Enger said improvements in wind-turbine technology have made it possible to operate at lower wind speeds – Trade Wind looks for areas with consistent 10 to 18 mph winds – but that rising energy prices also are a factor.

“There has just been more demand for energy the last few years,” he said.

Trade Wind Energy

• Founded: 2001

• Corporate headquarters: Lenexa, Kan., suburb of Kansas City

• Largest investor: Enel North America Inc., a subsidiary of Enel SpA, one of the world’s largest publicly held utility companies

• Current projects: Kansas, Missouri and Illinois

• On the Web:www.tradewindenergy.com

Tim Landis, GateHouse News Service

southtownstar.com

7 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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