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Kurtz role with energy firm no conflict in wind farm vote

URBANA – Alan Kurtz, a Champaign Democrat who has been the foremost advocate of wind power on the Champaign County Board, said Thursday he has no conflict of interest in approving a special use permit for the county’s first wind farm.

An email sent to some county board members this week accused Kurtz of a conflict because of his association with Viridian Power and Energy.

But Kurtz said Thursday he is an independent associate with Viridian, an international third-party power company that markets electricity contracts to residential users.

“This is bogus,” Kurtz told his Democratic colleagues at a caucus session before Thursday night’s county board meeting. “There is no conflict at all.”

Viridian does not operate in central Illinois. Kurtz said. He does business on behalf of the company in northern Illinois in the ComEd territory.

Kurtz also said there was no conflict when he voted for the county’s wind energy ordinance in May 2009.

“The company wasn’t even organized until September 2009,” Kurtz said. “And I didn’t even start with them until March of this year.”

Joel Fletcher, a Champaign County assistant state’s attorney, determined that Kurtz has no conflict because Viridian has no relationship with Invenergy, the company building a wind farm in Champaign and Vermilion counties, said county board Chair C. Pius Weibel.