DECATUR – A plan to pave the way for wind turbines in northern Macon County is on its way to the full board.
The county’s Siting, Rules and Ordinance subcommittee voted unanimously Thursday night to approve an updated wind energy conversion system ordinance, which sets the guidelines to follow to construct the more than 100 planned wind turbines that could appear on the county’s skyline by the end of the year.
The ordinance would require a petition for building permits for all turbines be submitted to the county’s planning and zoning administrator and that one special use permit and subsequent hearing would cover the project. The special use permit would expire if the turbines are not installed and functioning within 18 months of the permit being issued or if the turbines are out of service or unused for 12 continuous months.
The county’s planning and zoning administrator may extend these deadlines if action to remedy inactivity has been made.
The ordinance has some financial insurance for Macon County in that the owner of the project shall furnish to the county a bond covering the compliance with restoration requirements.
The county and E.ON, the the American unit of Germany’s largest utility company that plans to build the turbines, had gone back-and-forth over a months try to come to terms on the language of the ordinance, with E.ON looking to elaborate on how far a tower may be from the right-of-way line as well as the decommission plan.
“While we’re happy to work with them with respect to getting this ordinance better, it’s not going to be their ordinance,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Baggett. “While we’re happy to take their advice and make certain things agreeable to them, we’re not going to bend over backwards and make everything to their liking.”
The owner or operator of the turbines must also submit an annual report that includes maintenance reports, notes of modifications to the turbines
The development and placement of the expected 118 wind turbines is still being discussed by E.ON, but they are expected to be placed on the west side of U.S. 51 near Maroa. It is expected to create at least 100 temporary construction jobs and about 20 permanent jobs.
The ordinance is expected to be voted on at the March 13 county board meeting.
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