FORREST – The fate of a proposed Livingston County wind farm could be decided Thursday when the Livingston County Board votes on special considerations for the project.
An energy development company, Invenergy, based in Chicago, is hoping to construct 136 turbines for the Pleasant Ridge Wind Energy project near the towns of Forrest, Fairbury, Strawn and Chatsworth. Last month, the county board voted 12-12 on a motion to deny the application. The county’s Agriculture, Zoning and Emergency Services Committee then added special considerations for the wind farm and sent it back to the full board for another vote.
Both proponents and opponents spoke at a Monday press conference at the Forrest Community Library.
One of those was Forrest Village President Jim Gulliford, who said the project would create 300 jobs in Livingston County during construction and 100 long-term jobs once the turbines were built.
“This would benefit everybody,” he said. “Extra tax revenue would be generated for the county, the village, the townships the wind farms are located in, the area libraries, as well as the fire departments and rescue personnel. We are at a time where the state doesn’t have any money and everybody is having to cut back. The school districts will benefit greatly from this.”
Officials said it would generate $20 million in economic output per year, generate an average of $2.3 million in annual county tax revenue, and cut Prairie Central schools’ $2.5 million budget shortfall in half for the first year of operation with the generated tax revenue.
Also speaking in favor of it were former Prairie Central school board member Roger Brown; Superintendent of Tri-Point County Schools Jeff Bryan; Chatsworth resident Kathy Houser; and Lance Yednock with Local 150 International Union of Operating Engineers.
Others, though, say they are against it.
“We have more than 2,100 signatures on a petition against this wind farm and our support is growing,” said Rebekah Fehr, of rural Fairbury. “We don’t believe that it is going to create as many jobs as they are saying. Their officials said it would be around 13 or so once the wind farm is on-line. People are very skeptical of Invenergy and this wind farm has caused a lot of negativity in our county. It’s been a long process, but hopefully on Thursday, we will have a decision, one way or the other.”
The board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at Pontiac Township High School.
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