DANVILLE – A committee meets next week to consider whether to recommend granting Vermilion County’s first wind turbine permit to the developers of the California Ridge project in west central Vermilion County.
The county’s structural safety committee will meet at 5:15 p.m. July 6 on the second floor of the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St., Danville, to consider the project application for the 214-megawatt project that will feature more than 100 wind turbines in Vermilion County and about 30 in east central Champaign County. Invenergy in Chicago submitted its application for the project on June 3 along with its $100,000 application fee to the county.
If the committee decides the application meets all requirements of the county’s wind turbine ordinance, it will recommend that the full board grant a permit. The approval process for the Champaign County portion of the project has not yet been started, although county and Invenergy officials are already working on a road-use agreement.
The project area in Vermilion County encompasses about 23,327 acres in Pilot Township, according to the Invenergy application. The area generally stretches from northeast of Kickapoo State Park and the Middlefork Wildlife Area west across Illinois 49 and into eastern Champaign County north of Royal and south of Gifford. The easternmost boundary of the project is near Newtown Road in Vermilion County and the southern boundary generally runs along County Road 2100 N in Vermilion with the northernmost boundary touching 2700 N Road in Vermilion.
According to the application, the California Ridge project could be operational by December 2012.
There are five proposed wind farm projects in various stages in Vermilion County, according to officials with Vermilion Advantage.
Invenergy would be the first to obtain a permit if the structural safety panel recommends the county issue one.
County officials are considering changes in the wind turbine ordinance, which spells out what’s required of developers.
Two Rankin-area residents, Darrell and Kim Cambron, have made many suggestions for changes in the ordinance that was written by county officials more than two years ago and defines requirements such as the distance a turbine must be from buildings and adjacent property boundaries.
The Cambrons support larger setbacks than the current 1,000 feet, but Bill Donahue, Vermilion County counsel, said that if the setbacks are changed, the new requirements won’t apply to the Invenergy project because the company has already submitted its application.
Donahue said there could be some “smaller” changes that could be incorporated and wouldn’t have a big impact on the project.
“It’s just a balancing issue,” he said. “A court would probably say you can’t change too much because that wouldn’t be fair.”
Donahue added that the company and the landowners whose properties are being leased for the project relied upon the ordinance as written in arranging their leases.
As for changes to the ordinance itself, Donahue said he’s close to bringing to county officials some written recommendations that would go through the county board’s committee structure first before the full board.
Invenergy has about 20 wind farms throughout the United States, including two in Illinois, and two more that are under construction in the state.
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