PITTSFIELD, Ill. – The Pike County Board narrowly voted in favor of a new wind farm outside Pittsfield Monday night.
Illinois Winds LLC’s application for its 50 MW Panther Creek Wind Project – 25 wind turbines to be installed at various privately owned sites west Pittsfield – passed by on a 4-3 vote. Before the vote, Pike County Board Chairman Andy Borrowman alluded to an email sent to each board member objecting to the project, but when he asked for audience input, no one spoke up.
In accepting Illinois Winds’ proposal, the County Board amended its original motion to include several contingencies compiled by State’s Attorney Zach Boren. Before construction can begin, Illinois Winds must hire a licensed surveyor to compose a legal description, and plat of the project and submit it to the Pike County zoning administrator; refile for FAA approval; receive certification by a professional engineer that the foundation and tower design of the wind towers are within professional standards; provide to the zoning administrator final cultural resources, wetlands and geotechnical studies for each turbine; provide any other waivers as necessary; and provide the zoning administrator with a deconstruction plan no fewer than 60 days before construction starts.
The board authorized Boren to hire Patrick Engineering, the firm hired to analyze the 640-page application, to also investigate the deconstruction plan. Illinois Winds will assume the cost of the analysis.
“The deconstruction plan includes a professional engineer conducting standard analysis of how much it’s going to cost to take this whole thing down,” Boren said. “Just in case it’s not profitable or the company is gone, there’s a bond we would borrow against to take them down.”
The next step in the process will be for Illinois Winds to conduct a facility study with Prairie Power. Illinois Winds will also need to secure funding for what Vice President Morgan McGovert estimates will be a $70 million to $80 million project. Illinois Winds hopes to begin construction in early 2018 and to commence commercial operation by early 2019.
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