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Apex plans summer start on 49 turbines

ROSSVILLE – Apex Wind Energy plans to begin construction this summer on 49 turbines in the Hoopeston Wind project that will stretch north and west from Rossville.

The 98-megawatt project is expected to begin operating in early 2015, according to Dahvi Wilson with Apex Wind Energy.

It will be Vermilion County’s second wind farm. Invenergy’s California Ridge wind farm, with 134 turbines in western Vermilion and eastern Champaign counties, has been operating for more than a year.

Wilson said construction will begin this summer on the foundations for the wind turbines and the access roads to them. Company officials expect delivery of the turbines to begin just after Labor Day, Wilson added.

Last year, the county extended for another year Apex Wind Energy’s building permit for Hoopeston Wind.

Construction started late last year on the wind farm’s transformer and substation site, which is northeast of Rossville and west of Hubbard Trail Country Club, according to Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard. He said that’s the site where the energy will be collected from the wind turbines and put on the power grid.

The original permit for Hoopeston Wind was issued by Vermilion County in 2012. It was actually the first proposed wind farm that applied for a permit from the county, but the project ran into multiple delays, including changes in ownership.

International Power America Inc. was the original company that submitted an application for a wind turbine building permit in early 2011. That company pulled it just before the county’s structural safety committee took the permit request under consideration.

Later that year, the company merged with France-based GDF Suez. Then, in January 2012, the newly merged company resubmitted its application, which was approved, but construction did not move forward.

Then, in early 2013, Apex Wind Energy took over the Hoopeston Wind Project from the previous owner with the intent to carry through with the plans, but Apex had to request an extension of the permit. The original permit was approved under the county’s original wind energy ordinance that required a minimum of just 1,000 feet between turbines and primary structures, including houses.

Some residents who live in the California Ridge wind farm, which also was approved under the 1,000-foot setback, have been lobbying the county board to increase the setback requirement.

The board did approve increasing setbacks to 1,200 feet, but that was after the Hoopeston Wind project had received its permit.