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Public pans waiver request of wind farm  

Credit:  Tom Kacich, The News-Gazette, www.news-gazette.com 26 August 2011 ~~

URBANA – Officials with the company proposing a 30-turbine wind farm in northeast Champaign County are asking the county zoning board to allow them to figure in the scrap value of the turbines when covering decommissioning costs.

Further, representatives of Chicago-based Invenergy LLC also asked that they be allowed to negotiate township road agreements beyond the time the case would be before the county zoning board of appeals. Instead, they want to extend the negotiating period to the time that the county board votes on the proposal.

But a number of people at Thursday’s zoning board meeting urged the board not to grant any waivers or road agreement extensions to Invenergy.

“Let’s get it done out here in the public and let’s let everybody see it,” said Doug Bluhm, an Ogden Township board member.

Marvin Johnson, the highway commissioner in Compromise Township, one of two townships in Champaign County where the wind turbines would be located, said he thought negotiations regarding upgrades to township roads were “moving along real good and I’d like to see it going that way.”

Deb Griest of Urbana, a former zoning board of appeals member, also urged against agreeing to any extensions.

“This is the board where these discussions do occur constructively.”

Michael Blazer, an attorney for Invenergy, pledged that “if we think we will damage (roads) in advance, we will fix it in advance.”

Invenergy also asked that it be allowed to calculate the value of the scrapped wind turbines when it sets aside money for decommissioning costs.

But some audience members voiced displeasure with that idea.

“You don’t know what that value could be. It could be zero,” Bluhm said. “Using scrap value is a shot in the dark.’

About 75 people attended the first of four scheduled zoning board hearings on the wind farm application, and about a dozen testified or asked questions. The next hearing will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1.

The wind turbines in Champaign County would be part of a larger wind farm, most of which would be in Vermilion County, known as the California Ridge Wind Energy Project.

Mike Herbert, business manager and financial secretary for IBEW Local 601 in Champaign, endorsed the wind farm proposal, saying that Invenergy “builds quality projects” and would upgrade township roads so that they’re “as good or better” than they are now.

Four county board members – Republicans Steve Moser and Gary Maxwell, and Democrats Alan Kurtz and Pattsi Petrie – attended the zoning board meeting.

Source:  Tom Kacich, The News-Gazette, www.news-gazette.com 26 August 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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