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County committee OKs wind farm plan

DANVILLE – The second wind turbine project applying to build in Vermilion County received its first green light Wednesday night.

Despite concerns voiced by a couple of residents, the county’s structural safety committee approved a permit application for the construction of the Hoopeston Wind Energy Farm on the north end of Vermilion County.

GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. based in Houston, Texas, is coordinating the project, which calls for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville.

The committee voted 5-1 to approve the permit application. Committee member and county recorder Barb Young, who requested to see the motion in writing prior to voting on it, voted against it. Robert Watson did not attend the meeting.

The wind farm permit application still must be approved by a vote of the full county board, which next meets on Feb. 14.

Outspoken opponents Darrell and Kim Cambron of rural Rankin were the only residents to speak out during audience comments. Kim Cambron issued packets of information to committee members, asking them to further investigate “these industrial machines and their safety.”

The husband and wife team stressed GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc. should have all check points of the application met before a permit was approved.

“There is no rush to approve this industrial operation,” Darrell Cambron said.

A little more than 30 residents as well as five members of the Vermilion County Board attended Wednesday’s meeting, listening as committee members went one-by-one down a check list of items.

Young pointed out the company had submitted only 30 land leases to her office thus far, but 38 leases were indicated in its application.

“I would like to make sure those are all in order,” she said.

It also was pointed out the company’s liability insurance for construction expired late 2011. David Givens, manager of business development for the company, indicated the policy would be renewed prior to the county board meeting.

Completion of those issues prior to the board meeting were among the terms of the motion to approve the permit. Also included was a caveat requiring a road use agreement be reached between the company, Vermilion County and the three townships the wind farm project covers.

Givens, speaking at the meeting, said development of the project has been ongoing since 2008. The current timetable calls for it to be completed by 2014.

“We want to be good stewards of the community, of the environment,” he said.

This is the company’s second attempt at a wind farm permit in Vermilion County. A scheduled meeting before the structural safety committee in April was canceled.

The structural safety committee issued the first wind farm permit last year when it voted to approve the application submitted by Invenergy LLC in July.