GALESBURG – Knox County Board members discussed the lack of wind energy in the county despite other neighboring counties’ abundance of turbines.
“I feel like when I’m driving I see those turbines everywhere, but when I pull into Knox County there are none,” said board member Roland Paulsgrove, R-Dist. 1.
Chairman Greg Bacon, D-Dist. 2, said Knox County had plans to accommodate wind energy, but the electrical grid was sold out. Bacon said spots on the grid are sold like a commodity with a limited number of units.
“The company told me there was not enough grid space to buy. I don’t know how true that is.” Bacon said. “You can only put so much power on the transmission lines.”
County Clerk Scott Erickson said the county has passed zoning laws to accommodate the turbines and other buildings that may come with wind energy. He expounded upon what Bacon had said about the limited space on the power grid.
“Due to the power grid being regulated and harder to actually get the energy generated onto the grid to the distribution hub to the consumers, it kind of stifled a little bit of the growth on the wind farm,” Erickson said.
Board member Shawn Pitman, R-Dist. 4, said there were suitors to build turbines in Henry and Knox County, but they went over budget. Knox County officials are unsure why.
Chief County Assessment Officer Chris Gray said the company Invenergy LLC drew up plans and finalized contracts with landowners in Henry and Knox counties to bring a wind farm to the area, but she hasn’t heard from them in about a year.
“They were in touch with us before the project started and I was told Knox County was going to be the second stage of the big wind farm project,” Gray said. She continued that the landowners in Henry County were getting a better deal than those in Knox County, and they hired an attorney to protect themselves. After that Gray said they lost communication with Invenergy.
“All of a sudden things just died,” she said.
However, Bacon said he knows there are still tax credits available for building wind farms, and said the county could consider revisiting the issue. In Wednesday night’s meeting there was no vote taken on the matter
In 2006, President Obama helped start a program where the federal government would fund 30 percent of renewable energy projects, but on a limited basis. The program is scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2016.
Meanwhile, the County Board approved a change in the law to allow for poker runs, and laid out how the events would be registered and regulated.
When the plan passed the Finance Committee, Bacon said he had to talk with Erickson about the way registration fees were set up. The board found it can only charge $25 per run.
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