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Wind farm construction set for 2012

DANVILLE – The winds of changing have things moving quickly in the establishment of wind farms in Vermilion County.

Last year marked the initiation of the first wind turbine project in the county. The permit for Invenergy Wind LLC was approved by the Vermilion County Board in July and the company began preliminary work for the project in November.

Vermilion County received a check on June 10 for $104,000 as an application fee from Invenergy to construct 104 wind turbines as part of the company’s California Ridge Wind Energy Project. Another 30 will be built in Champaign County.

Now, just a month after preliminary work began on the first wind farm, the permit process is expected to begin for the county’s second wind farm.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon confirmed GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. will begin the permit process in January for its project in northern Vermilion County.

He said the company will be in discussions next month and the project permit application will go before the county board’s structural safety committee first.

McMahon said it could move to the full county board for approval as early as February.

The company based in Houston, Texas, is coordinating a Hoopeston project first coordinated by the company International Power. The project calls for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch reaching from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville.

This is a second attempt for the company, which canceled its first permit process in April just days before the structural safety committee was scheduled to meet.

McMahon said he believes the company is moving now to go through the permit process to avoid facing higher permit costs. Currently, GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. has paid a permit fee of $47,000, but would be eligible later next year for higher permit fees passed by the county this fall.

“It’s to their advantage to get it done and over with,” McMahon said.

If passed, it will be the second project in northern Vermilion County. Invenergy’s California Ridge wind project starts along County Road 2150N just north of Newtown in Pilot Township and stretches north and west to just across the line into Compromise and Ogden townships in Champaign County.

According to the company, work includes access road and turbine foundation work. Construction of a collection system, which interconnects the individual wind turbines, is expected to begin in January. Invenergy said the first turbines are expected to be delivered in May, with commercial operations currently slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2012.

McMahon said the county still has open dialogue with Horizon – which is coordinating the Broadlands wind farm that will cover the area where Vermilion, Douglas, Edgar and Champaign counties meet.