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Wind farm proposal moves forward

The public can air its views next month about a planned wind farm in La Salle County’s southeastern corner.

A public hearing is set for Wednesday, March 15, on a proposal by Avangrid Renewables, of Portland, Ore., to build 50 or so wind turbines.

Avangrid, which will present its proposal under its subsidiary, Heartland Wind LLC, has leased 11,000 acres for a wind farm from more than 100 participating landowners, according to the company. Its ultimate footprint, the firm says, would involve fewer than 2 percent of the leased area.

Last week, the county sent letters to 300 neighboring landowners to alert them of their opportunity to weigh in.

The county expects some opposition to the wind farm, said Mike Harsted, the county’s director of land use and environmental services.

At the hearing for the county’s last wind farm, Harsted recalled, the opposition came from nearby counties with more experience with such projects.

“They presented no scientific documentation to request a denial,” he said.

In Lee and Bureau counties, wind farm hearings have dragged on for months because of strong opposition. By contrast, the hearing process is typically a one-night affair in La Salle County.

The county’s hearing will be held by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which makes recommendations. The elected County Board has the final say.

Wind farm opponents often complain about the noise, shadow flicker and what they perceive as unsightliness of turbines. Supporters cite the property tax revenue that wind farms generate, particularly a boon for school districts. The proposed wind farm is within the Streator High and Allen-Otter Creek Elementary districts.

In an interview Monday, Avangrid spokesman Paul Copleman said he wasn’t sure when construction would start if the project were approved.

“One of the reasons we are moving forward is that the general market for wind energy has improved,” he said.

Copleman said construction could start later this year if the company secures the necessary permits and a customer for the power.

The proposed wind farm would be between two existing wind farms in the area. The county has about 220 turbines now.

If you go

What: Public hearing on Avangrid Renewables’ plan for a wind farm in southeastern La Salle County

When: 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 15

Where: La Salle County Governmental Complex, 707 Etna Road, Ottawa, Room 250

Information: Call county’s environmental services and land use office, 815-434-8666