PEKIN, Ill. – Land owners around Washington, Morton and Deer Creek began receiving correspondence recently gauging their interest in leasing land to a company for the purpose of erecting wind turbines to bring a wind farm to northern Tazewell County.
According to Tazewell County Board Member John Ackerman, his parents were among several people who received letters Thursday from PNE Wind, a German company that was founded in 1995, according to the company’s website.
Ackerman said he was very excited by the news, because of the success of the Rail Splitter Wind Farm in southern Tazewell near Delavan that opened about a year and a half ago. He said the extra revenue the project would bring to the county would be very welcome.
“With the success of the Rail Splitter (wind farm) down south I’m encouraged to see more of that development in our county, particularly District Three,” Ackerman said. “Other counties keep getting these projects, so it’s our turn now.”
Kristal Deininger, the county’s zoning administrator, said a few property owners have called her office asking for information regarding wind farm regulations and ordinances. She said if PNE Wind is truly interested in locating in Tazewell, then the company’s first step would be to directly contact land owners to gauge availability of land, not necessarily the county government, which would explain why county officials currently have no inside knowledge about any possible deal.
Deininger said the company would want to secure land leases before even approaching the county to undergo the process to allow special use of land zoned for other purposes. The process, if it goes forward, could take a year or two before it is completed and the company begins erecting any windmills or setting up the infrastructure to support the farm’s operation. Deininger said that to her knowledge PNE had not yet contacted the zoning administration office.
County Administrator David Jones said he was aware some land owners had received letters but said there is no guarantee any wind farm will be coming to the county. He said the county government would not get involved until the company reaches out to them.
“We wouldn’t get involved until the developer asks us to get involved,” Jones said. “We’re kind of in the middle of the process. But that wouldn’t preclude them from looking over stuff.”
Horizon Wind Energy opened the Rail Splitter Wind Farm in the summer of 2009 after the construction phase of the turbines created about 200 jobs, and the operation of the turbines created a handful of permanent jobs.
County Board Chair David Zimmerman was excited about the completion of the Rail Splitter Wind Farm at the dedication ceremony in July 2009, and an additional wind farm could provide another economic boon to the county during otherwise tough economic times.
“I truly believe the Rail Splitter Wind Farm is going to be a win for all the parties involved,” Zimmerman at the time. “It’s a win for Boynton Township and the Olympia School District, and the increased property tax base will make for better roads and a stronger educational system. In fact, Tazewell County local governments and schools will receive $513,000 in the first year alone. Horizon also invested more than $1 million in the roads here locally.”
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