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Committee to discuss wind farm plans

DANVILLE – Members will have their opportunity to speak when a committee appointed by the Vermilion County Board meets Wednesday to discuss the latest application for a wind farm.

The structural safety committee is scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in the second floor chambers of the Courthouse annex, 6 N. Vermilion St.

Vermilion County received a check on June 10 for $105,000 from Invenergy Wind LLC to construct 105 wind turbines as part of the company’s California Ridge Wind Energy Project.

Kolby Riggle, former environmental health director for the county health department, is chairman of the committee. He said simply the committee will look at whether the Invenergy application meets with the building requirements of the county’s wind farm ordinance.

“If they don’t have their ducks in a row and don’t have everything the ordinance requires, we’ll tell them we can not approve it to county board,” Riggle said. “It all depends on how well they have done their homework.”

According to the application filed by the company, the California Ridge wind project starts along County Road 2150N just north of Newtown in Pilot Township and stretches north and west to just across the line into Compromise and Ogden townships in Champaign County.

The project is expected to be 214 megawatts in size, consisting of as many as 134 wind turbines, 104 of which will be in Vermilion County.

The project, once completed, will be the second largest Invenergy wind farm project in the United States.

In addition to determining the application’s merits, the structural safety committee is a forum to allow the public a chance to speak out in regard to the wind farm application.

Vermilion County corporate counsel Bill Donahue said, unlike county board meetings, there are additional rules members of the public will be expected to follow if they would like to speak at the committee meeting.

The rules, approved by the committee, call for verbal statements given to the public to be given under oath, Donahue said. In addition, simple hearsay will not be accepted.

“We want to be fair and give them a chance to speak, but make sure we’re talking about facts, not rumor,” Donahue said.

Also, the chairman may impose a time limit of 10 minutes for presentations by individuals.

Also seated on the committee are Vermilion County Recorder Barb Young, Highway Engineer Doug Staske, former Danville alderman Bob Iverson and former county board member Robert Watson.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon said county board members will be spectators for this meeting, with none of the board sitting on the committee.

If approved by the structural safety committee, the issue of the California Ridge project could be before the full county board at its next monthly meeting, scheduled for July 12.

Wednesday will mark the first time the structural safety committee has met. It was scheduled to meet at one point in regard to the application for the Hoopeston wind farm project, but GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. put its project on hold.