PONTIAC – Officials in Livingston County will consider a wind farm proposal that could add 136 turbines over 30,000 acres of farmland in the southeastern portion of the county.
Last week, Invenergy, an energy development company based in Chicago, submitted a special-use permit application to the county. The Zoning Board of Appeals will review it and could send it to the County Board this fall.
The Pleasant Ridge Wind Energy Center would be located in the townships of Pleasant Ridge, Forrest, Fayette, Eppards Point, Indian Grove, Chatsworth, Charlotte, Belle Prairie and Avoca, and near several towns, including Forrest, Fairbury, Strawn and Chatsworth.
“Pleasant Ridge will provide substantial, long-term economic benefits to the local community,” said Invenergy spokeswoman Alissa Krinsky. “The project is expected to create more than 200 jobs during construction, and approximately 10 operations and maintenance jobs once the facility is operational, along with millions of dollars annually in local tax revenue, lease payments to landowners, and salaries for staff.”
Opponents and supporters of the proposed wind farm have already attended several meetings of the County Board and its agriculture and zoning committee to express their opinions.
“We didn’t know anything about this until late June,” said rural Fairbury resident Rebekah Fehr. “We found out when Invenergy began passing out information in Fairbury.”
Fehr said the county was supposed to review the current wind farm ordinances in 2006 and 2010, but has yet to do so.
“The wind ordinances in this county are just too weak,” she said. “I believe that is the reason wind farms look at Livingston County. Nothing has been done on the ordinances since 2006.”
Last week the County Board voted to have the ag and zoning committee review the current ordinances, and the board considered placing a 90-day moratorium on approving any wind farms. Invenergy submitted the permit before the board considered the motion and therefore would not be subject to a moratorium.
Invenergy officials say they selected the area based on wind resources, land use and proximity to existing power transmission infrastructure. The towers would stand 431 feet, according to the application submitted by the company, which has agreements with 304 private landowners on 580 parcels of land.
“While support for renewable energy is strong both in Illinois and across our country, we take seriously any concerns of those who live in a project host community,” Krinsky said, adding the wind farm would abide by all local, state and federal regulations and involve much public input.
If approved, construction could begin before the end of the year with a possible commercial operation start date in the fall of 2015.
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