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Follow-up File: Sangamon County wind farm

More than 2 1/2 years after plans were announced for a 200-turbine wind farm in western Sangamon County, developers say they are continuing to work on land options and need the economy to improve.

The project, now known as Sangamon Wind I and Sangamon Wind II, would include an area from the Morgan County line to Farmingdale and Loami to Pleasant Plains.

“We’re still quite a ways from actually putting together a permit application,” said Chris Nickell, site manager for developer American Wind Energy Management.

22,500 acres

Sangamon County approved an ordinance in 2006 governing the construction of wind farms in unincorporated areas. A group of residents in the area also gathered 450 petition signatures last year asking for tougher restrictions on the development.

Options on 22,500 acres have been signed for the first phase of the project, according to the company. Nickell said the project has faced delays in negotiations for a connection to the regional power grid, but the economy has been the biggest challenge.

“To build a wind farm, you need wind, you need land, you need an electrical connection, and you need someone to sell power to,” said Nickell. “It’s the last part where the economy has had a big impact.

“When the economy goes down, so does the demand for power.”

Two more years?

Even if the economy were to rebound, it could take up to two years to get permit approval and to begin construction, Nickell said.

American Wind Energy Management is a North American subsidiary for Euro Wind Energy Management. According to the website, the parent company has developed 400 megawatts of wind-energy projects in Europe.