The winds of change may be coming to Northwest Indiana.
Farm owners in Eagle Creek Township in southernmost Lake County soon could be signing contracts aimed at delivering a $5 billion, 100-megawatt wind farm to the landscape.
Andy Paterson, president and CEO of Michigan Energy Generation, the wind farm development company that has been discussing contracts with local farmers, will meet with Eagle Creek landowners at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Range Line Community Presbyterian Church, 18095 Clay St., Hebron.
“We hope to start signing on April 12,” Paterson said. “Building a wind farm is an elaborate process that starts with signing landowners and collection of wind data on a site. From this point, the process can take two to five years based on numerous other studies and circumstances.”
Paterson’s firm has some weight behind it. Michigan Energy is partnered with International Power PLC, a London-based independent power-generating company that recently merged with energy behemoth GDF Suez.
That affiliation makes a possible deal more attractive to Eagle Creek folks such as John Bryant, one of the farm owners approached by Paterson’s firm.
“This outfit has an awful lot of backing, with gobs of money. The holding company, GDF Suez, has 220,000 employees worldwide,” Bryant said.
Some of the landowners of the 10,000 acres of interest to the wind farm developer already have been emailed a sample contract to study. The formula for payment is based on the farm’s total revenue divided by the number of wind turbines on the property.
Paterson confirmed his company is looking south of the Kankakee River, too.
“We have met with some landowners south of the river and hope to expand the project,” he said.
While wind power plants have relatively little impact on the environment compared to fossil fuel power plants, environmental concerns about noise, appearance and negative impact on birds and bats have been raised.
“I think the wind turbines are majestic and peaceful looking,” Eagle Creek resident Dorisanne McNeill said. “If it (wind energy) will help us with our energy, then I’m for it.”
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