DANVILLE – Owners of the first local wind farm are looking at expanding the project more than two years after it first went into operation.
The California Ridge Wind Project, owned by Invenergy LLC, has been producing electricity since the end of the 2012. It was the first wind turbine project approved and built in Vermilion County.
In the months before operation began, Invenergy officials confirmed expansion was an option, noting that some landowners had been spoken to about locating turbines on their property.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Invenergy confirmed that the company has initiated “preliminary development activities” with the intent of possibly expanding the wind farm.
The California Ridge wind farm starts along County Road 2150N just north of Newtown in Pilot Township and stretches north and west to just across the line into Compromise and Ogden townships in Champaign County.
The project consists of as many as 134 wind turbines, 104 of which are in Vermilion County. The project covers 23,000 acres of private land in Vermilion County.
According to an email from the company, no formal proposals have been submitted to the county at this point. As a result, no schedule has been set for the expansion.
Bill Donahue, Vermilion County assistant state’s attorney, said Wednesday that in order to expand the wind farm, Invenergy would have to file for a new building permit with the county. The county has not received any paperwork in that regard.
The application, according to the county process, would go before a structural safety committee which is appointed by Vermilion County Board Chairman Mike Marron. If approved, the permit application must be approved by the full county board.
As early as August 2012, Invenergy officials confirmed the possibility of an expansion. At that time, the company said the project could be located either north or south of California Ridge or build off of it in both directions.
No additional information regarding the size or location of an expansion was released on Wednesday.
Energy produced from the turbines is purchased by the Tennessee Valley Authority through a long-term purchase agreement.
If paperwork for the permit is submitted, it would be the first application process for a wind farm in Vermilion County since 2012 when the Hoopeston Wind Farm project was approved. The California Ridge Wind Project application was approved in 2011.
The Hoopeston Wind Farm is in the final stages at this point, with operations expected to begin this year. The wind farm, consisting of as many as 49 turbines, is located northwest of Rossville.
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