DECATUR – The long-discussed wind farm project in Macon County is set for a final decision.
The Macon County board meets at 6 p.m. tonight with the agenda featuring a plan that would build 140 wind turbines and other components of a wind farm in the northern part of the county.
County committees held earlier this summer have seen dozens of supporters and opponents spend hours at the usually quiet meetings going over their thoughts and concerns with the wind farm proposal. It would allow Twin Forks Wind Farm, a subsidiary of E.ON, the American unit of Germany’s largest utility company, to construct and operate up to 140 wind turbines near Maroa and Warrensburg.
Under the special-use permit, the wind farm will operate in Macon County for 30 years, with an estimated $46 million in new tax revenue generated over the life of the project and an estimated $32.5 million of it going toward Macon County school districts, specifically Maroa-Forsyth and Warrensburg-Latham. Macon County would receive $6.1 million, while the Austin, Maroa, Illiini and Hickory Point townships would split the remaining $7.8 million.
Participating landowners are estimated to collectively be paid $1 million to $2 million per year for leases.
Construction of the turbines is expected to create 140 prevailing wage construction jobs in the area for six to 12 months, while 10 local, full-time jobs will be created to service the equipment during the length of the project.
A running theme throughout the process, which first came to light about 2008, has been whether the financial positives outweigh the perceived negatives related to wind turbines in the community.
Residents opposed to the farm have raised concerns about the noise created by turbines, the impact of “flicker effect” created by turbines during daylight, the environmental cost to livestock and birds and the impact on property values.
They were also critical of what they believed was a rushed process in August.
Officials from E.ON have attempted to answer some of the concerns during public hearings, as well as in studies provided in their application.
The proposal was recommended by the Zoning Board of Appeals and unanimously passed by the county’s Environmental, Education, Health and Welfare Committee, which both met in mid-August.