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Chinese firm acquires Lee County wind project

A Chinese company has acquired a planned wind farm project in Lee County, but the previous owner will continue to play a central role, the companies announced.

Construction of the 71-turbine farm is expected to start later this year, said Chris Henkel, Lee County’s zoning administrator.

Chicago-based Goldwind USA, the U.S. arm of Xingiang Goldwind Science and Technology Co., is acquiring the project from Mainstream Renewable Power.

Henkel said Mainstream informed the county of the change in ownership. He said he hadn’t heard any indications of drastic changes in the project.

He said it was “very wise” of Mainstream to tell the county about the change, which he said promotes trust in the company.

Mainstream, an Irish company with regional offices in Chicago, will play a central role in the development and construction stages to help Goldwind, which is the world’s fifth-largest manufacturer of wind turbines, according to a news release issued by both companies.

The wind farm will be along Shady Oaks Road near the intersection with Interstate 39, near the border of Brooklyn and Wyoming townships. Mainstream has projected the farm would produce enough energy to power about 30,000 homes.

Officials have said the Shady Oaks project is expected to generate about $1 million in annual tax revenue for the county.

Another Lee County wind farm planned by Mainstream is called the Green River project.

Henkel said the county hasn’t received a petition for that site.

“They are still progressing with getting land agreements with farmers,” he said.

In September, the Lee County Board enacted a 6-month moratorium on new permitting for wind farms.

Residents calling for more wind farm regulations fear turbines will lower their property values and will be too close to their homes.

Lee County already has more than 250 turbines built or under construction.