Macomb, Ill. – McDonough County could see its first wind farm construction begin by May or June. County Engineer Tom Hickman told the county board’s road and bridge committee Thursday that Element Energy is ready to submit a formal application.
“I’ve gone over it twice,” Hickman said of the application draft. He said copies should be ready within two weeks to be distributed to board members.
Copies of the application will eventually be placed in the office of County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes for public examination. Hickman said a public hearing will probably be held in February and the McDonough County Board would be asked to act on the application in March.
Hickman said a pre-payment of $8,700 has been made to the county for placement of 116 wind turbines in Sciota Township and two miles into Blandinsville Township. He said another 30 turbines might be located in Warren County.
The engineer said there are still issues to be worked out with the Macomb Municipal Airport regarding air traffic patterns in the wind farm area. Once the application is received, Hickman said the Environmental Protection Agency has asked for a report on how the company intends to protect certain birds, animals, and reptiles that dwell in the rural area.
Hickman told the committee that a separate road agreement must be signed with the county before construction can begin. “There will be a fee paid upfront, after the first year, and after the second year,” he said.
“This project will destroy some roads, but they will rebuild them in better condition,” said committee chairman Clarke Kelso. “That’s what has to happen.”
Kelso said Element Energy will probably set up a concrete plant on site. He said 300 yards of concrete will be used for each turbine foundation, and that electricity generated will feed through underground lines to a transformer station to be located south of Illinois Route 9.
Hickman said the wind farm would eventually generate 200 megawatts of energy. He said the county would receive revenues of about $1.8 million per year once the system is up and running.
In other business, the committee approved a resolution to be forwarded to the county board designating $540,000 in state motor fuel tax funding to be used for county and township road work this year.
Hickman said local motor fuel tax income was down by $70,000 in 2010 but that this was offset by an equivalent amount in state capital development dollars.
The committee also voted to forward to the county board a new three-year contract with county highway workers. Hickman said employees would receive salary increases of 2.5 percent this year, three percent next year, and 2.5 percent in the final year of the contract.
The engineer said vacation approvals are to be granted based on the earliest time received and, when necessary,employee seniority.
Hickman said the county has purchased 62 tons of salt to keep on hand for use this winter. Crew supervisor Dave Cadwallader said employees have already spent time hauling and mixing salt and sand, and did some work on county snow routes in December.
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