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Potential deal brings fresh hope for local wind farm  

Credit:  By Melanie Csepiga, Times Correspondent, www.nwitimes.com 10 April 2011 ~~

Until last fall, Eagle Creek Township farmer John Bryant and others had expected a wind farm launch with Windlab, a Michigan-based firm with international ties.

That chance was blown when Windlab pulled out.

Although proximity to the Kankakee River was cited, Bryant said the company also had a change of management while in the middle of the process with Eagle Creek folks which, ultimately, ended the project in southern Lake County.

But Eagle Creek farmers and residents who live and work on the 10,000 acres of interest will meet with Andy Paterson, president and CEO of Michigan Energy Generation, a wind farm development company with global ties, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Range Line Community Presbyterian Church, 18095 Clay St., Hebron.

They already are considering sample contracts to put wind turbines on their properties.

Lake County Councilman Rick Niemeyer, who represents the southern portion of the county, said he and county officials are aware of the possible development, and he has spoken with landowners there.

“They’re interested, of course,” he said.

While County Council Attorney Ray Szarmach has had some conversation with Paterson, Niemeyer said it has gone no further and won’t for a while.

“We’re not anywhere close to drafting an ordinance,” Niemeyer said.

In September, county law governing wind power was enacted, said Steve Nigro, the building and planning administrator for the Lake County Plan Commission. It allows for a wind tower to collect data to be permitted under a special exception to the zoning ordinance, he said.

Niemeyer said beyond that, the council eventually would look at a detailed wind farm ordinance on the scale of a utility.

“There are concerns. There will be a public meeting on the county’s behalf after they (Michigan Energy Generation) come to us for direction,” Niemeyer said.

There are currently 800 turbines producing 1,339.2 megawatts in Indiana.

According to the Indiana Office of Energy, there currently is projected an additional capacity of 2,257 turbines producing 4,065 megawatts of electricity.

That includes the Spartan Wind Farms No. 1 and 2 in Newton County that are part of a Duke Energy Generation Services development. It is projected that, combined, they will generate more than 186 megawatts of electricity.

Indiana’s viable wind resources are in pockets scattered across the northern half of the state, notably in Benton County.

The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Benton County has 355 turbines installed to produce 600 megawatts of electricity. Orion Energy Group’s Benton County Wind Farm has 87 turbines installed to produce 131 megawatts; EnXco’s Hoosier Wind Project in Benton County has 53 turbines installed to produce 106 megawatts.

A number of other wind farms are under development in isolated Indiana counties.

Source:  By Melanie Csepiga, Times Correspondent, www.nwitimes.com 10 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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