Another international wind company is taking a look at south Lake County as a potentially viable location for a $5 billion 100-megawatt wind farm that could create up to 100 jobs.
London-based International Power plc’s North American operations wants to locate a 100-turbine wind farm in Eagle Creek Township, east of Lowell, the same area in multinational wind company Windlab had hoped to place a wind farm last year.
Windlab abandoned the project in October after determining that two factors – the Kankakee River drainage system and residential growth in the area – made it unfeasible.
Andy Paterson, president and CEO of Michigan Energy Generation, which has a development agreement with International Power, said Michigan Energy does not see the same problems with the site that Windlab did.
“To us that didn’t make sense,” Paterson said. Building in flood plains will add to the cost but won’t limit you from building.” In one of International Power’s windfarms is located on the shores of Lake St. Claire, in Canada.
International Power, which has windfarms worldwide, including numerous farms in Canada, is currently looking at Northwest Indiana and the Lafayette area, Paterson said. IP merged with GDF Suez in February and employs about 250,000 people, Paterson said.
The company pays property owners based on the total revenue produced by the farm divided by the total number of turbines. That could be a collective $1 million a year. The project could also put another $200,000 and $400,000 a year in property taxes into the local economy, he said.
Paterson said he will meet again with property owners April 12.
“Our plans are to get landowners signed up in early April before the farming season starts,” Paterson said. “We then need to start testing the wind.”
Collection of wind data, which involves erecting a meteorological tower, is critical, and could take up to two years. Other studies include bird and bat migration. The entire process could take two to five years, Paterson said.
“Indiana’s got excellent wind resources,” Paterson said, thanks to the Great Lakes and predominant southwestern winds.
Property owner John Bryant Jr. said he and others were told that IP planned to install 1.5- to 2-Megawatt turbines and was looking to extend the windfarm south of the Kankakee River.
“If they determine its profitable they’ll build it,” Bryant said. “They have the financial backing. That’s one thing we don’t have to worry about.”
Morocco lawyer Dan Blaney is again representing the property owners as he did with the Windlab’s project that would have placed up to 200 turbines on 23,000 acres at the eastern end of Lake County, stopping a mile north of the Kankakee River. Blaney said he sent copies of Benton and Newton counties’ wind ordinances this week to Lake County Council attorney Ray Szarmach. Szarmach said he planned to draw up a utility-scale wind ordinance for Lake County, as a separate ordinance from the small,home- and agriculture-based wind energy systems ordinance that went into effect last fall.
“We’re looking for encompassing more issues,” Szarmach said. “We’re try to expand on that. Szarmach said he hoped to have a rough draft next week, in time for Council members to study it before the Council’s April 12 meeting.
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