Farm could harvest Grundy County winds; Grand Rapids Wind Energy Center looking to expand to the east
Invenergy of Chicago is to expand the multi-million dollar Grand Rapids Wind Energy Center eastward into Grundy County.
“We are currently reaching out to the landowners,” Invenergy spokesman Michael Arndt noted Wednesday, during the public meeting concerning the expansion project. “We held a landowners meeting recently with those who will prospectively be hosting wind turbines, and 120 landowners showed up. They’re very interested.”
The project would be located in the westernmost section of Grundy County – including Vienna Township – directly east of the existing Grand Rapids Wind Farm in Brookfield and Allen townships in La Salle County.
The Grundy County Board recently developed a wind ordinance to allow for wind farms.
A timeline for construction is yet to be determined, but the Grundy County project could begin as early as 2010.
“Or, it could be later,” Arndt said. “It depends on how the land acquisition goes.”
He said landowners’ interest is helped because they are able to look out their windows to the west and see a wind farm that has already been built and is about to begin operation this fall.
The Grundy County Board must grant Invenergy a special use permit to establish the wind farm there. La Salle County granted the company a similar permit before construction began last year on Phase One of the GRWF.
“We haven’t applied to Grundy County for the permit yet,” said Arndt. “We need to have the landowner leases and land layout configuration for the wind turbines before we can apply.”
Additionally, Invenergy is talking to the communities of Ottawa, Marseilles, and Seneca, along with La Salle County itself, on expansion of the enterprise zone to cover Phases 2 and 3 of the Grand Rapids Wind Farm.
The company also will work with Grundy County on the enterprise zone expansion, of which the three communities and both counties are members.
“All five entities need to sign off,” on the expansion before the project is a go, said Arndt.
In the meantime, Invenergy is planning Phase 2 of the GRWF expansion in Grand Rapids Township south of Ottawa and east of the village of Grand Ridge. This phase will include construction of 34 wind turbines.
The Phase 3 expansion project extends into Brookfield Township south of Marseilles and Seneca, Allen Township at Ransom, and Otter Creek Township east of Streator. A total of 66 more wind turbines will be constructed in these townships. Plans are to start construction on the two new phases as early as this fall.
“And finish late spring or early summer 2009,” said Arndt. “We’d like to go in service with the next machines by late summer.”
Invenergy has already constructed the first 66 turbines as part of Phase One.
“We did all along have plans to expand that project,” Arndt noted. “This was in the plans originally.”
The $700 million project is being located across 25,000 acres of farmland in La Salle County. Each turbine is capable of producing 1.5 megawatts of power. The turbines are being placed about 2,500 feet apart. The total project capacity will be 350 megawatts of power.
Each turbine and access road occupies about one-third acre of land. A turbine consists of a 252-foot tower with blades 143 feet in length. The project will produce enough pollution-free energy to supply power to about 116,000 average homes.
Invenergy will rent the space for the wind turbines from the landowners on 35-year leases, with the company responsible for the annual real estate taxes on the leased land.
Company representatives noted the goal of the state of Illinois is to obtain 25 percent of its electrical power from the wind by the year 2025.
“We’re at 1 percent right now, but eventually we’ll get there,” one spokesman said. “Twenty-five percent of our power from the wind is going to be fantastic.”
The state can never derive 75 percent of its energy from the wind because of the variability of wind.
About 100 people attended the meeting in the Marseilles Lions Club hall.
By Jo Ann Hustis
24 July 2008
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