DANVILLE – The permit process for a wind farm in northern Vermilion County is on hold at the request of the company.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said Monday that GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. requested that Tuesday’s structural safety committee meeting set to discuss issuing a permit for the wind turbines be canceled.
A new date has not been set.
GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc., which is based in Houston, Texas, had recently purchased the company International Power, which was the latest coordinator of the wind farm project and the company that had originally filed for a permit for the wind farm in February.
The project calls for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch reaching from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville.
Questions and comments from residents in the Hoopeston and Rossville areas had been collected Friday to be presented at Tuesday’s public hearing.
McMahon said the company had been looking for an upgrade to Ameren power lines to handle the power generated by the turbines. It was a concern that, as of Monday, no upgrade was scheduled, McMahon said. The company had told county officials previously the lack of an upgrade would mean a two-year setback for the project.
A message left for John Givens, manager of business development for GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc., was not returned Monday.
McMahon said he was under the impression it would not be advantageous for the company to go ahead and get the permit at this point. If the power lines forced a change in the size, height or brand of the turbines or the size of the turbine blades, the company would have to come back and reapply for a permit.
“They’re being very proactive until they have better data on the lines ready for them,” he said Monday.
GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. is already into the project for the permit fee of $47,000 – which McMahon said would be put in escrow until the company returns to continue with the permit process.
McMahon said he is not worried the project is in jeopardy, noting he has talked to companies for other announced wind farm projects – one north of Oakwood that extends into Champaign County and another that envelops the southwest corner of Vermilion County.
“They’re all moving at a snail’s pace,” he said. “They’re all looking at the power lines they need to sell the wind energy.”
He said demand for electricity also is low right now, but is confident of the wind farms’ futures.
“Wind energy is coming to Illinois,” he said. “They’ve done all the studies that we’re wind friendly.”
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