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Wind farm back on track

OREGON – An Ogle County wind farm long delayed by lawsuits is once again moving ahead.

Ogle County Zoning Administrator Michael Reibel said Tuesday that Apex Wind Energy, based in Charlottesville, Va., has bought the Baileyville Wind Project from Navitas-Gamesa and plans to start construction in the spring.

Almost 6 years ago, on Dec. 20, 2005, the County Board granted Navitas officials the special-use permit needed to build the wind farm in Maryland and Leaf River townships.

Opponents sued in both Ogle County and federal courts, blocking the project for several years. Now the suits have been settled, allowing the project to proceed.

The special-use permit granted in 2005 is still valid. Before beginning construction, however, Apex must get administrative permits from the Zoning Department and highway permits from the Ogle County Highway Department, Reibel said.

“They have quite a bit of work to do before they break ground,” he said. “We’ve been working with Apex for several months and will continue to work with them.”

The plan approved by the County Board in 2005 called for 40 windmills to be built over 5,000 acres, taking 40 acres of farmland out of production. The wind towers were to be 400 feet tall on 16-foot concrete bases.

Reibel does not know if the plan has been altered, but said the required applications, once they are filed, will allow him to review Apex’s current plan to make sure it complies with the terms of the special-use permit.

Apex officials could not be reached for comment.

Other wind energy companies also are interested in developing wind farms in south central, western, and north central Ogle County, Reibel said.

“Several companies are working on signing up local landowners.”