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Huge wind turbines planned near Toluca; Proposed towers would dwarf those in area now  

Credit:  By GARY L. SMITH, OF THE JOURNAL STAR, www.pjstar.com 10 September 2010 ~~

LACON – The Marshall-Woodford County line became a reference point in a Tiskilwa firm’s planning for a wind farm proposed for an area southeast of Toluca, the project’s developer said Thursday.

At a meeting of the Marshall County Zoning Committee, Matthew Kaufman, president of Stewardship Energy LLC, outlined new details of the company’s tentative plan with partner Akuo Energy to erect at least 16 huge turbines of 2.5 megawatts each.

“This is a project we’ve been looking at for three to four years,” said Kaufman, who added that later expansion could lead to 30 or 40 more turbines in the county.

Kaufman’s company had envisioned an installation that would spill into Woodford County from the very southeastern corner of Marshall, he said. But those plans changed as a prolonged controversy erupted over an unrelated wind farm in Woodford County.

“It’s a pretty tough sell down there,” he told officials here. “We want to go where we’re wanted.”

Marshall County has always been receptive to wind energy. When the 100-turbine Camp Grove Wind Farm was established in an area straddling the Marshall-Stark County line west of here, there sometimes appeared to be competition between the two counties over which would get more turbines.

Marshall County got 60 in that case, while Stark got 40.

The towers being considered for the new project would dwarf those in Camp Grove and many other installations in both size and generating capacity, Kaufman said. At 2.5 megawatts, the capacity would be nearly 67 percent more than the 1.5 MW turbines in Camp Grove and some other projects.

In addition, developers are considering erection of towers that would be 328 feet to the hub and 480 feet to the topmost tip of the blades, Kaufman said. Many existing towers are about 260 feet to the hub.

Whether to build the taller towers, which would generate more energy because of higher winds, will be largely “a matter of economics” in calculating whether the higher investment would pay off, Kaufman said.

If the company completes its application for a special use permit in time, there could be a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing as soon as Oct. 21, said zoning administrator George Meister. The County Board would have to give final approval of the project.

“We’d like to start (construction) in May or June,” Kaufman said. “We’d like to be done by the end of next year.”

Source:  By GARY L. SMITH, OF THE JOURNAL STAR, www.pjstar.com 10 September 2010

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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