MACOMB – The project manager for a wind farm network in McDonough and Warren counties told the McDonough County Board on Wednesday that the effort is being held up between the Illinois General Assembly and energy regulatory agencies.
“We’re right at the cusp of where we need to be to begin construction,” Scott Koziar told the board.
Koziar said the stalemate exists because of state deregulation which has allowed individuals and communities to set up energy purchase contracts with many smaller alternative companies instead of with the big power companies. He said renewable energy suppliers now get a very small share of available allocations, which makes it difficult for them to plan their futures.
“Do you have a need for long-term energy purchase agreements?’ asked county board member Clarke Kelso.
“Yes, because we can’t go to Ameren on our own,” Koziar responded. “We have to deal with the Illinois Power Authority, and it is not authorizing 10 to 15 year contracts right now and we need that type of contract.”
Koziar said wind power efforts began in the two-county area five years ago. His company, Element Power, stepped in when a previous company opted out halfway through the period.
The area project is called Cardinal Pointe and Koziar said his company wants to stay with it. He said all land use contracts with area farmers would be renewed.
Ron and Dorothy Curtis of Sciota were in attendance at the county board meeting. They said they have a contract with Element Power for the placement of wind turbines on portions of their property.
“A lot of companies have just walked away from Illinois,” said Dorothy Curtis. “We appreciate this company sticking with us.”
Koziar said Element Power had been considering four projects in Illinois but has now decided to concentrate on Cardinal Pointe.
“We think it has the best chance of success,” he said. “We have enough land to generate the full power we’ve envisioned, but we would probably start out with just a portion of that.”
The project manager said his company appreciates the support of the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation, local landowners, and legislators from this area. Koziar said there is a push for Illinois to require a 25 percent statewide use of renewable energy sources by 2025, and that he is hoping long-term energy purchase contracts could be approved by 2014 or 2015.
In other business, County Board Chairman Scott Schwerer said he had positive news about county sales tax income. General sales tax in April exceeded last year’s level by $7,580 and the portion of sales tax for public safety use was $8,728 above April, 2012.
The board approved funding for reconstruction of two bridge culverts in Prairie City Township in the amounts of $6,000 and $7,000. A vote was also taken to approve the county’s 2012 external audit report and to accept the 2014 legal holiday calendar from the Ninth Judicial Circuit, which determines days on which the McDonough County Courthouse will be closed.
Board members approved the transfer of $150,000 to the county medical payments fund, with the option to transfer another $150,000 if necessary to meet cash flow demands. Also approved were Schwerer’s appointments of Josh Cameron, Jim Frisbee, Richard Lacy, Craig Rigg, and Gary Shelley as the board of trustees for the Archer-Bethel Cemetery.
Board member Alice Henry announced that the McDonough County Soil and Water Conservation District has invited the public to witness the sealing of an abandoned well on August 8. The district would like people to see how to correctly seal off a well in order to be in compliance with the law and protect groundwater and the water supply in nearby wells. The demonstration will take place at 16120 East 1700th Street in rural Macomb.
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