MONMOUTH – The Monarch Wind Project on the Warren County Farm recently received a $5 million grant.
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley announced at a visit to Unytite, a manufacturer of heavy equipment nuts and bolts used in construction, a $5 million grant was awarded to the Monarch Wind Project in Warren County as well as almost $1 million to Unytite to produce products used in wind energy projects.
“Our traditional manufacturers can expand and grow by retrofitting their processes to incorporate green technology,” Ribley said. “Unytite is a perfect example of a company that is looking to the future of wind power. Our investment in their project, as well as in Monarch Wind Power, creates new opportunities for the businesses, workers, and homeowners in this region.”
A release from the DCEO projected the Warren County project would create about 90 new jobs.
President and CEO of Monarch Bob Gay said the $5 million was explicitly for equipment and associated costs of electricity generation.
After the project was approved by the Warren County Board earlier this year, Gay the next step was to secure complete financing for the project before ground breaking.
“This is a very critical time for the project. This is an important chunk (of the financing). The point of the grant is to jump start activity (investment),” Gay said.
The developer originally said he hoped to to break ground this fall, but “it is a short trip from the end of October to snow,” Gay said.
Foundations are a key concern and critical to the project he said. It takes three to four weeks for the concrete to cure properly under good conditions.
The wind is another key concern. Gay said winter is typically windier in the Midwest.
“It is the biggest problem by far (in terms of construction),” he said.
Winds of just 15 mph make work unsafe. Calm winds at the ground level equate to wind of 15 mph at the height of the towers.
But, for now, securing the remaining financing is at the front of the agenda. Gay said he needed to have the entire package in place before moving forward. He said because of confidentiality agreements with some suppliers, he could not divulge the total amount of financing required.
While confident, Gay said he was concerned about the state’s financial crisis negatively affecting the project.
“It makes me uneasy. I wake up thinking about it,” he said.
But, he remained optimistic.
“We always hope to move faster rather than slower,” Gay said. “This project will generate a lot of revenue for local schools and communities.”
The long-term economic affect for the area from secondary development could be even bigger, but is impossible to accurately predict, Gay said. He used Google as an example. The company, heavy users of electricity to cool their servers, has been intentionally placing facilities near areas with renewable energy.
“You can’t foretell that (type of development) easily,” Gay said, adding in that example the one sure thing is Google won’t be likely to place a facility where there is no renewable energy.
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