August 8, 2014

Peoria County is without wind farms

By Andy Kravetz of the Journal Star | Posted Aug. 7, 2014 |

PEORIA – The answer to why Peoria County has no commercial wind farms could be blowing in the wind, say area officials.

Scott Sorrel, an assistant county administrator, as well as Matt Wahl, the head of the county’s planning department, say they haven’t been approached by wind companies to set up a wind farm in Peoria County.

So they don’t really know why the county is an island surrounded by others with such installations. Marshall, Woodford, Tazewell and McLean counties all have wind farms. Illinois is among the leaders nationally in wind energy.

Kristal Deininger, the administrator of the Tazewell County Community Development office, said the company that put up a wind farm on the county’s southern edge approached officials a few years before to install testing towers.

The idea was to check the wind speed to see if the site, located near Armington and Delavan, was appropriate for a wind farm. It was, and the 67 turbine, 100.5-megawatt Rail Splitter Wind Farm went online in 2009.

“We were never really told what made that area,” Deininger said.

An attempt to contact EDP Renewables, the Houston, Texas-based company that owns the Rail Splitter farm, wasn’t successful.

So why is Peoria County not attractive?

Sorrel thinks it’s likely a mix of topography and location. The good areas for wind are too far from the power grid, thus making it not financially feasible to set up a farm. It could be a reluctant land owner, but he doesn’t seem to think that’s the case.

Wahl agrees, saying he heard the area in the northwest corner of the county was best suited for a wind farm but that’s about 15 miles or so away from the grid. That would require a company to lay transmission lines and given the state of the free market now, that isn’t likely a good financial choice, he said.

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