DIXON – A proposed wind farm in the Sauk Valley has changed hands.
Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy has taken ownership of the Green River project in southwestern Lee County and southeastern Whiteside County. It had been owned by Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power.
Geronimo noted that it had already acquired Walnut Ridge, a proposed wind farm in neighboring Bureau County.
“This acquisition benefits all interested parties,” Geronimo President Blake Nixon said in a statement. “It gives Geronimo flexibility and stability when speaking with power purchasers – and it means the local communities have one point of contact, which keeps communication very simple.”
In the statement, Matt Boss, a vice president at Mainstream, said Geronimo is an “ideal partner” in moving Green River to construction because of its agricultural roots, regional development experience, and financial backing.
In 2012, Whiteside County approved Mainstream’s proposal for nine turbines. The next year, Lee County signed off on 53.
During the approval process, Mainstream never ruled out selling the project. In North America, it owns no active wind farms, according to its website. It typically handles the approvals for a project, then sells it to another company before construction.
That’s what happened with the wind farm near Compton and West Brooklyn in Lee County. Mainstream got the plans approved, but sold the project to a Chinese company, Goldwind, which completed construction in 2012.
Last year, Geronimo bought the yet-to-be-built Walnut Ridge project in Bureau County from Midwest Wind Energy, along with seven others.
In an interview Wednesday, Larry Gerdes, a landowner in the project’s area, said he was approached by a Geronimo representative who wanted to see what the company could do to make him happy with a wind farm in the neighborhood.
Gerdes is among 60 residents who have filed a lawsuit against Lee County and Mainstream. They contend the project will be incompatible with surrounding land uses, decrease their property values, and create noise and shadow flicker.
During county hearings over the proposal, Gerdes paid an attorney, Rick Porter of Rockford, to fight it.
“The only way they would satisfy the citizens in the lawsuits I’m involved with is that they not be around,” Gerdes said. “We’re not here to be bought off. We don’t want turbine installations. They damage the quality of life and existence of neighbors who are poor, innocent bystanders. We will fight them forever.”
He said it wouldn’t matter to neighbors whether Mainstream or Geronimo owns the wind farm.
“Different company, same motives,” Gerdes said. “They all want to get rich off of subsidies and tax credits.”
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