At an event on Monday afternoon at the Indian Creek Golf Course and County Club in Fairbury, representatives from Invenergy, a wind developer nearing the final stages of submitting a proposal to Livingston County, looked to inform members of the public curious about the project.
“Right now, we’re just looking to inform the public,” said Kevin Parzyck, Invenergy’s vice-president of development for the central region. “We’re just kind of laying out what the project is.”
Wind energy has continued to expand as a primary energy source for nations across the world, including the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind accounted for just over 4 percent of the nation’s total electricity generation last year. This number pales in comparison to the 39 percent attributed to coal, the 27 percent from natural gas and the 19 percent that came from nuclear sources. However, companies like Invenergy believe that wind energy is not only a way of the future, but is one of the safest, most efficient forms of energy available.
“Each turbine operates independently based on environmental conditions,” said Parzyck. “The turbine is able to sense the direction of the wind and it can adjust to turn into the wind. As well, the blades pitch to engage the wind or disengage the wind. There’s always mechanics going on to optimize the performance of the facility.”
Some of the biggest criticisms related to wind turbines, which already cover large portions of the northern portion of the county, include the aesthetics and the potential dangers to wildlife – namely birds and bats.
The Sierra Club, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the planet, supports wind energy, but urges caution when considering the placement of wind farm projects, as well.
“Wind energy plays an important role in fighting climate change and weaning us off fossil fuels,” a statement from its website reads. “However, wind projects should be developed and operated to avoid and minimize impacts on wildlife, particularly avian species.”
Other concerns include the noise that some nearby residents complain of, something that was the topic of a town hall-style meeting recently in Pontiac. However, the company repeatedly made it clear Monday that the turbines are built on properties with landowner consent.
Furthermore, Parzyck said that Livingston County meets all three criteria for an ideal location for wind development, partially because of the large number of turbines already spread throughout the county.
“Logically speaking, when we do a wind project, we’re looking for several things. We’re looking for good wind. Secondly, we’re looking for a community that is accepting of it in terms of zoning ordinances,” he said Monday. “Livingston County already has wind and we’re looking to add to that. Third, a big thing is transmission – we have to generate the energy and deliver it into the grid.”
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