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Low power prices hold up wind farm’s construction

PAXTON – The Dogtown Wind Farm, a proposed 100-megawatt wind farm featuring up to 49 turbines east of Paxton, could be built “within the next year or two,” one of the project’s co-developers said.

Doug Krause, project manager for Chicago-based Akuo Energy USA, said the low wholesale price of power has been the main reason for the delay in constructing the wind farm, which was awarded a special-use permit from Ford County in 2013.

“The way the market works is, the price of natural gas pretty much determines the wholesale price of power,” Krause said. “The wholesale power price has historically been 5 cents per kilowatt-hour – over 50 years it’s hovered around there. But now, it’s at 3 or under. That’s because of the boom in the natural gas market.

“If the wholesale price goes back up, then the wind market in Illinois will start picking up again, too. … The signals are good within the next year or two, so something should happen there soon.”

Krause said that once the wholesale price of power returns to its former levels, power purchase agreements will be sought.

“The minute we find a deal, then we’ll be going to town on it,” Krause said.

The Dogtown Wind Farm is being jointly developed by Stewardship Energy LLC, based in Bureau County, and Akuo Energy USA, a subsidiary of France-based Akuo Energy.

The Dogtown Wind Farm would comprise 6,136 acres of farmland east of Paxton and south of Illinois 9. It would be immediately south of the 150-megawatt, 94-turbine Pioneer Trail Wind Farm, built in fall 2011.

The project is expected to involve a $200 million capital investment. The wind farm would produce an estimated $10 million to $20 million over 20 years in local property tax revenue and millions of dollars in payments to landowners leasing their farmland. It would also create eight long-term jobs and provide enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.

The name of the Dogtown project was chosen by local landowners. It refers to an area east of Paxton that is known as Dogtown.

Will Brumleve is editor of the Paxton Record, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit paxtonrecord.net.