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Does Woodford want wind energy?

EUREKA – In a strongly worded letter to landowners, Iberdrola Renewables said its proposed wind farm near Benson is on hold because of concerns about the new Woodford County Board, which is perceived to be opposed to wind farm development.

Jeffrey Rinkemeyer, Iberdrola’s Midwest development director, said the newly elected board members “are supported by various opponents of wind energy who have advocated their election in order to create regulatory disincentives for wind energy development in Woodford County.”

He said there has been significant turnover in the zoning office which has led to “initiation/approval of several new siting rules/requirements that will not only discourage future wind development in the county, but may stop it entirely.”

Rinkemeyer urged property owners to address the board in support of wind farm development.

“We believe it is necessary to restore some semblance of reason and support for wind energy in Woodford County at the County Board before investing manpower, and high level of investment dollars required to replicate projects similar to those we have already built and operate in other counties in Illinois,” Rinkemeyer said in his letter.

A year ago the Woodford County Board agreed to Iberdrola’s petition to place two meteorological towers, as a precursor to a wind farm project near Benson.

This project was originally begun by Navitas Energy in 2006. Navitas then sold the project to Iberdrola, a Spanish company, in mid-2007.

The county’s comprehensive planning and zoning committee currently is involved in updating the existing wind farm ordinance which many on the County Board think is vague and lacks adequate protection for the county.

Woodford County Board Chairman Stan Glazier said he was shocked to hear about the letter through a reporter from the Woodford County Journal.

“It was a fellow I had worked with in the past and thought we had a pretty good relationship and was taken aback, they had that attitude,” Glazier said referring to Rinkemeyer.

The committee, he said, had been transparent about tightening up the ordinance, which was done with the guidance and approval of the state’s attorney.

“They are still working on it,” Glazier said. “The meetings have been open and accessible to everyone.”

A public hearing on certain aspects the wind farm ordinance through the county’s zoning board of appeals is set for 6 p.m. April 28.

Iberdrola did not respond to a request for comment.