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CEO: Turbines would disturb wildlife

ROCK FALLS – The proposed wind farm in Whiteside County has a prominent adversary – the county’s largest private employer.

Greg Wahl, CEO of Wahl Clipper Corp., owns land near some of the proposed turbines in the far southeastern part of the county.

Wednesday, Wahl testified during an ongoing hearing for Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power’s proposed wind farm in Whiteside County, which would consist of nine turbines.

Wahl’s land is 143 acres – 22 of which he called an undisturbed prairie. It includes rare plant and animal species, including the plains hognose snake and the ornate box turtle, he said.

It’s “the most ecologically significant” private parcel in Whiteside County, he said.

The wind farm hearing is before the county Planning and Zoning Commission, which is meeting every other week on Mainstream’s proposal. The commission will make a recommendation on the wind farm, but the County Board has the final say.

Mainstream also plans turbines in Lee and Bureau counties.

Wahl was with his attorney, Rick Porter of Rockford, who represents landowners from around Illinois fighting wind farms.

Wahl, whose company employs 870 people, asked the county to require Mainstream to site its turbines and a substation a half-mile away from his property. The substation, he said, would be across the street from his land.

The turbines’ shadow flicker and noise would disturb the threatened species, he said.

If the county approved the wind farm, Wahl said, it should require ongoing post-construction studies. If the turbines disturb the rare species on Wahl’s land, they should be taken down, he said.

Wahl said he believed the company seemed reasonable and would be open to the post-construction studies. He said he has visited with Mainstream representatives before and found them polite and cooperative.

Years ago, Wahl preserved prairie near the future Deer Valley Golf Course, but after the golf course came in, he said, rare species disappeared.

He said he felt bad about it and didn’t want it to happen again.

Wahl is an amateur ecologist who has worked to preserve prairies since 1975.

“It’s one of the biggest things in my life outside of my family,” he said.

The hearing continues in 2 weeks.

To attend

The Whiteside County Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 7 p.m. May 16 at the Rock Falls Community Building, 601 W. 10th St. Meetings last 21/2 hours.

The commission will hear testimony on Mainstream Renewable Power’s planned wind farm.

Call Whiteside County’s zoning office at 815-772-5175 for more information.