November 14, 2015

Logan County Board hears early-stages of Invenergy wind farm plan

By Jessica Lema | The Courier | Posted Nov. 14, 2015 |

The Logan County Board heard from Chicago-based Invenergy LLC Thursday night about the company’s interest in developing a wind farm in the northeastern part of the county.

Allyson Sand, Development Manager with Invenergy, told the board that the firm is looking at building a wind farm just east of Atlanta, which would span southward toward Beason and Chestnut.

Bill Thomas, Director of the county’s Economic Development Partnership, said that the EDP began talks with the company several weeks ago.

“We’ve met numerous times since…that first introduction and I believe we’ve reached the point now where we’re far enough along in those discussions that we wanted you to meet someone from Invenergy,” Thomas said before turning the floor over to Sand.

Sand told the Board that Invenergy, founded in 2001, is North America’s largest independently owned wind generation company and that they have done over 70 wind, solar and thermal projects (over 40 of which were wind).

“So, we have quite a bit of experience doing utility-scale wind,” she said, adding that they have been involved in other wind projects around the state including- the Bishop Hill project, in Henry County, the Grand Ridge projects, in Lasalle County, and the White Oak project in McLean County (which they sold to NextEra Energy Resources in 2011).

“We’re really excited to be looking at Logan County,” she said, adding that they are in the very early stages of determining the scale of the project.

Sand mentioned that they would likely have land agents in the area working on gaining easements and land acquisitions soon. Chairman David Hepler asked her what size of project they are looking into at this time.

She explained that it’s hard to determine exactly how large the project would be at this point, but said that an approximate target would be “somewhere between 150-250 megawatts,” but could be less if larger turbines were installed. “I really wouldn’t want to nail anything down right now because that could change,” Sand said.

“We’ll see what happens and how much participation we’re able to get and that will kind of shape what we’re able to do.”

Board member Pat O’Neill voiced his support for the project, calling it the “wave of the future.”

The Board also heard presentation from local school board representations about the CEO program, which puts high school juniors and seniors in real-life business development environments and trains them in entrepreneurial skills. They indicated that 15 students are currently enrolled and they are hoping to expand to 20 next year. They asked for a financial commitment from the board in the amount of $1,000 a year for the next three years to help support the program. The matter was sent back to Airport & Farm Committee, pending the anticipated availability of funds in that budget.

At the start of the meeting, the group bid farewell to County Board secretary Pam Meagher, who is leaving her position this week to begin work at the new Cresco Labs facility in Lincoln.

Out of the Executive Committee, board member Jan Schumacher explained that they are hoping to have an operational deviated-fixed route for the public transportation program by January. The new initiative would be a regularly scheduled route around the area with various stops where people could be picked up, as opposed to the current appointment-only system.

Under the Chairman’s report, Hepler brought forward a letter addressed to Doug Brown, the Chief Engineer with City Water Light and Power, of Springfield, urging him extend the company’s coal-buying contract with Viper Mine. The letter which is already signed by Andy Van Meter, Chairman of the Sangamon County Board, specifies, “There are 350 people working at Viper Mine and without your contract, the mine will most definitely close. We ask you to consider the consequences of going elsewhere for coal for CWLP and to keep your business ties closer to home here in Logan and Sangamon County.”

The approval of that letter and all other matters added to the agenda will go to a vote Tuesday night at the meeting beginning at 7 p.m. in the first-floor courtroom of the Logan County Courthouse.

Prior to the meeting, a Purple Heart ceremony will at place at 6:30 p.m. in the courthouse rotunda, declaring Logan County a Purple Heart County.

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