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Wind farm proposal faces final vote

The Champaign County Board will make a final vote on whether to construct 30 wind turbines in Champaign County on Thursday.

Al Kurtz, chair of the board’s Environment and Land Use Committee, said this proposal has been in the works for three years and calls for the installation of 104 turbines in Vermillion County, along with the 30 in Champaign County. He said the Zoning Board of Appeals has recommended approval by the county board, which will make the final decision.

“At this point, I’m very confident,” Kurtz said. “I have great confidence that this will pass on Thursday.”

Kurtz said each turbine costs $4,500, and a $20,000 fee will also be applied for special use permits. He said that these permits give the developers the right to install the turbines in compliance with zoning regulations, including noise levels, safety and decommissioning rules.

The company for the proposed project, Invenergy, could not be reached for comment.

If the Champaign County Board does not approve the proposal, then the 30 turbines will be added to the wind farm in Vermillion County, said Suhail Barot, chair of the Student Sustainability Committee and graduate student.

“It’s been in planning for a while, and now they’re looking for construction,” he said.

Barot said the wind farm will also provide tax revenue for Champaign County.

“I don’t see a good reason for the county board to not approve,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing for the county.”

According to a July press release, each turbine will provide a $14,400 tax revenue for the county.

Andrew Robinson, co-leader of Transition Champaign County, an advocacy group, said Champaign regulations set up a decommissioning fund, which is a set of agreements for companies and investors. It states that if they cease to work on the project, they must responsibly remove and restore the land to its previous condition.

He said most people see this clean energy initiative as an investment for those who have already purchased land on which a turbine will be placed. It will be a source of income for those who own that particular piece of land, Robinson said.

“I just have an interest in this topic locally,” he said. “It’s a resource for our state and our county.”

Kurtz said there has been little opposition to this initiative since concerns have been mitigated. He said the final vote will secure hundreds of jobs and clean energy.