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County committee approves wind farm project

DANVILLE – Committee members voted Wednesday night to approve the first wind farm application in Vermilion County.

A little more than 30 people – including several Vermilion County Board members – attended the first meeting of the county’s structural safety committee as it went over the wind farm application for Invenergy Wind LLC.

Greg Leuchtman, business development manager for Invenergy, answered questions from committee members as they went down a checklist of what necessary actions had been taken. Several of the requirements – such as verifying turbine locations with the Federal Aviation Administration and consulting with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources – were met.

Others, including the completion of road agreements for the property and the filing of all easements with regard to the properties involved, were noted as not yet finished.

In the end, enough work had been done to garner approval from committee members, including former Danville alderman Bob Iverson who said all energy sources have shortcomings and issues.

“There are going to be unknowns going into this,” Iverson said. “The company has answered those to the best of their ability.”

County corporate counsel Bill Donahue said the committee’s job is to make sure that Invenergy is a reputable company to be trusted, adding the company did a good job at answering committee questions.

With regard to property easements, Leuchtman told committee members agreements have been signed. He also said the road agreements would be completed before any turbine construction would begin.

Vermilion County received a check on June 10 for $104,000 as an application fee from Invenergy Wind LLC to construct 104 wind turbines as part of the company’s California Ridge Wind Energy Project.

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.

With Wednesday’s approval, the Invenergy application now moves on to the full county board for final approval. Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon confirmed after the committee meeting the issue will be brought before the county board at its meeting Tuesday.

Six residents voiced their opinions as part of the meeting, with four of them expressing concerns regarding issues with the permit application. Among them were Darrell and Kim Cambron of Rankin, who have made multiple appearances before the county with issues about the wind turbines.

Kim Cambron submitted documents regarding the safety of the turbine structures, including accident data dating up to March 31.

“I’m asking the county to truly slow down and look at all the information – good and the inherent problems associated with the wind turbines,” she said.

Her husband, Darrell, downplayed any presentation by Invenergy, contending it “is only going to show one side of the story.”