EUREKA – Iberdrola Renewables has put a hold on its 100-tower Benson wind farm project.
In a letter dated April 8 to landowners with potential towers, the company complained that new county board members and turnover in the zoning office have led to “the initiation/approval of several new siting rules/requirements that will not only discourage future wind development in the county, but may stop it entirely.”
Jeffrey Reinkemeyer, Midwest development director for the company, signed the letter, which encourages landowners to voice their concerns to their county board members. Reinkemeyer referred questions about the letter to another company representative.
The Minonk Wind Farm has completed all regulatory requirements and needs only to apply for building permits to begin construction. The Roanoke Wind Farm, just west of Minonk, lacks only a road agreement with one township, then County Board approval.
“Where are they?” said board Chairman Stan Glazier asked. “Does this really get to the truth of it? Does this have anything to do with renewable energy losing a lot of their government subsidies today or yesterday? The way I understand it, $500 million got cut from the federal budget. If this is the kind of business that wants to come in Woodford County, that has to have 60 or 70 percent subsidized from the government and our taxpayers, and if they can’t make it without having those government subsidies do we really want those?
The Benson project was developed by Navitas Inc. in 2006 and purchased by Spanish-owned Iberdrola in 2007. It was approved by the County Board, but its building permit expired, and Iberdrola was required to go through the permit process again. As recently as 2009, Reinkemeyer told the Roanoke Rotary that its goal was to begin construction by 2011-12.
The county’s Conservation, Planning and Zoning Committee has been making recommendations to add more details to the county’s wind farm ordinance, some of which were recommended by State’s Attorney Greg Minger and others taken from wind farm ordinances in other Illinois counties.
They include markings for meteorological towers, protections for field tile, establishment and maintenance of a telephone hotline, potential communication interference, and remedies for tower blade flicker.
All the changes must go the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals and then to the full County Board.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding