FORREST – It’s a debate that’s raged for close to a year now in Livingston County. As the county board prepares for its final vote on the fate of the Pleasant Ridge Wind Turbine Project, both sides are making a spirited final push.
“We have that wind, we should be harnessing that wind turning that wind into energy,” said Roger Brown, a farmer in rural Fairbury.
Brown is pleading his case for Pleasant Ridge Wind Energy Project.
The 136 proposed turbines could create hundreds of jobs during construction, and then millions of dollars in annual revenue for Livingston County.
“We really do need to bring outside income, new income into our rural area because they are dwindling,” said Brown. “We’re losing residents because they’re going where the jobs are.”
It’s why he joined this press conference, which also includes workers and village leaders. In June, after more than 30 public hearings, the zoning board of appeals recommended the project not move forward.
More than 2,100 people have signed a petition against the turbines, and want to make sure the board has no doubts this time around.
“All over the world, all over the United States, there’s stories of drainage problems these main cranes get on and bust these tiles,” said Rebekah Fehr, a Fairbury resident.
Brown disagrees. He has a farm in Dwight, and says he can hardly notice the noise the turbines make during his day to day operations. Plus, there’s another perk as well.
“Everything the people say they will do, fixing tiles…they’ve done a wonderful job,” said Brown. “They talk to you if there’s crop damage. They compensate crop damage.”
And while school boards, like nearby Tri-Point, say the wind farms could ultimately save jobs and programs, Fehr says she’s still not convinced that the benefits would last.
“I wish I could say there would be a positive,” said Fehr. “There would be a short-term, everything that they discussed today is very short-term for the school district, which would mainly be the first year.”
And both sides believe, it’s probably going to come down to the wire again.
The Prairie Central School District has not taken an official stance on the project, saying they’ll accept whatever decision is made.
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