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Mainstream may submit wind plan soon; Company likely to turn in Whiteside application first  

Credit:  By David Giuliani, www.saukvalley.com 1 November 2011 ~~

MORRISON – A wind energy company soon may submit an application for a wind farm that would include a part of southeastern Whiteside County.

This month, the County Board plans to consider a proposal to increase the required distance between houses and wind turbines from 1,400 feet to 1,600. That decision is expected to mark the finish of the county’s review of its wind energy rules.

If the county handles that issue at its Nov. 15 meeting, Ireland-based Mainstream would like to turn in its application for the wind farm shortly after, said John Martin, a company representative.

Mainstream’s proposed wind farm also would be built in Lee and Bureau counties. In Whiteside, it would be near Deer Grove, population 48.

Mainstream plans to put up 60 to 90 turbines in the first phase, the vast majority of which would be in Lee County. The second phase would be a similar number.

Bureau and Lee counties are reviewing their wind energy ordinances. Lee County has been doing so since the summer. The process could last through the end of the year, officials say.

Martin said it’s possible that his company could submit its application to Lee County before the end of the review, but he said that’s “not likely at this point.”

“Obviously, we’re working with all three counties as far as their reviews,” he said.

Mainstream representatives recently met with Whiteside County officials about the procedures for handling the application. The process would include public hearings.

Earlier this year, the Deer Grove village board voted to regulate turbines within 1.5 miles of its boundaries. Its mayor, Al Thompson, has said he doesn’t want turbines near the village.

Some have questioned whether Deer Grove has such power because it doesn’t have zoning ordinances. In September, the Whiteside County state’s attorney asked for the state attorney general’s opinion on the issue. A month later, the attorney general’s office indicated it would consider the matter.

Whiteside County is looking for places to hold hearings because the courthouse meeting rooms probably wouldn’t be big enough to handle the public, said Stuart Richter, the county’s planning and zoning administrator.

If Mainstream turns in an application this month, the hearings would start in January, he said.

Whiteside County currently doesn’t have any wind farms. Lee and Bureau counties do.

Source:  By David Giuliani, www.saukvalley.com 1 November 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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