BLOOMINGTON – Another wind farm could be coming to McLean County.
Invenergy, a Chicago-based alternative energy company, is reaching out to local landowners with an eye to putting up as many as 120 turbines in the northeastern part of the county as soon as 2017, said Allyson Sand, the company’s business development manager.
“We’re looking in Chenoa Township, Yates, Lawndale and Lexington,” she told the county’s Regional Planning Commission on Wednesday. “Our focus is gauging support, working on land and working on community outreach.”
The company could submit materials to the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals and the County Board this year, Sand said. It also will prepare an agricultural impact mitigation agreement as specified under new state guidelines.
“An aggressive goal would be… to potentially submit a permit by the end of the year,” she said. “(If we) have a power purchase agreement signed and start construction, potentially we could be operational by the end of 2017.”
Sand declined to discuss the cost of the project, but she told the commission Invenergy hopes to install enough turbines to generate 200 to 250 megawatts of energy per hour – most likely from between 100 and 120 turbines.
Sand also did not estimate how much money the county might receive from the turbines, though she noted local governments receive additional property tax revenue for alternative energy sources under state statute. LaSalle County, which has equipment generating 250 megawatts per hour in wind and solar power, received an additional $1.79 million in tax revenue last year.
“The road improvements that we would do are also a great benefit, particularly to the townships. … We usually do a mass upgrade of the roads, depending on their condition,” she said. “We usually prepare an economic impact report as we get closer.”
When asked if any of the energy generated by the wind farm might be used locally, Sand compared the impact to “a bucket getting dropped into a pool.”
“It’s hard to really say that all of this energy is going to this (specific) location or this customer,” she said.
Sand deflected a question about whether the local market for wind farms could be saturated. Others include Twin Groves Wind Farm, a 240-turbine farm in the east of the county, and White Oak Wind Farm north and west of Normal.
Invenergy built and sold White Oak Wind Farm, but Sand said the company usually owns and operates its developments.
“It’ll depend on what the county wants (and) what the residents in the area will want,” she said of demand. “We’ll just find that out as we moved forward.”
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