The Kelly Creek Wind Farm now has some wind in its sails.
The Kankakee County Board approved on Tuesday a special use permit for the project, where it falls in the county’s southwestern corner. That puts the parent company, EDF Renewable Development Inc., on track to start construction by late spring 2016.
The project will include 108 turbines starting in Norton Township and spanning into Ford County. The company plans to build 33 turbines in Kankakee County.
The heads of several local taxing bodies were on hand to urge approval for the project. Tri-Point Community Unit School District 6-J Superintendent Jeff Bryan said the wind farm would generate enough property tax revenue to hire 10 more teachers.
“We just don’t have much opportunity for economic development,” Bryan said. “The economic impact to our district will be tremendous.”
The company is hoping to complete Kelly Creek by the end of 2016. About 40 Kankakee County property owners have private leases with the company for use of their farmland. But it did face some public opposition at the zoning board of appeals in July.
Residents raised some concerns about the damage to roads caused by another of the company’s wind farms, Pilot Hill; the amount of farmland being sacrificed; who would handle public complaints, police it, or protect it from fire. The zoning board commissioners who voted against the special use permit were silent as to their reasons.
“The concerns were addressed, but I can’t say it was to their satisfaction,” said Delbert Skimmerhorn, Kankakee County planner. “The opposing votes did not offer any comments as to why they opposed it.”
Andrew Wheeler, the county board member who represents portions of the city of Kankakee, cast the only vote against the project. He expressed frustration that a deal for decommissioning the turbines has not yet been reached. Taking down projects come with costs and can become a cost to taxpayers if stringent policies are not in place, he said.
“Once again, we’re being asked to vote for something when the negotiation isn’t complete, like with the landfill consultant,” Wheeler said. “We vote for things when we don’t have enough information and I’ve stopped doing that.”
Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jamie Boyd said the issues, “have been cleared up. They just haven’t been documented.” Krygowski said he believes the county has a stringent decommissioning policy and that the issues have, “all been well addressed.”