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Developer says DeWitt County wind farm construction to begin in 2019

CLINTON – A DeWitt County wind farm project in the works for at least a decade may be up and running in two years.

Tom Swierczewski, a development director with Trade Winds Energy of Lenexa, Kansas, met with DeWitt County officials last month.

“We intend to apply for the special-use permit early next year,” he said. “We are moving forward on the project.”

If approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Regional Planning Commission, the DeWitt County Board also would have to sign off on the permit. Approval from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources would be required because of Clinton Lake, he said.

About 160 landowners have agreed to participate over a 21,000-acre area, Swierczewski said. The project is located about five miles northwest of Clinton.

“Our current strategy is to be ready for construction as early as the spring of 2019,” he said.

The project was put on hold because of a bad economy and electric deregulation in Illinois, Swierczewski said.

If approved, it would be the first wind farm based in DeWitt County. Power would be sold to regional utility companies and could produce enough electricity for about 60,000 homes.

It would be the first Trade Winds Energy project in Illinois. The company has one in Indiana and several in Oklahoma and Texas.

“We are looking forward to the process,” said County Board Chairman Dave Newberg. “Of course, it has to go to the ZBA and RPC and all of that, but I believe we will look closely at other counties around here who already have wind farms and see what issues they faced, what they may have missed and how they handled everything.”

The company plans to use significant local labor for construction and operations, and will contact Trinity Towers, a manufacturer of structural wind towers located two miles north of Clinton, for possible supplies.

It also plans to open an office in the Magill House in downtown Clinton.

The company has met with zoning administrator Angie Sarver and highway superintendent Mark Mahon about actions necessary for the application process.

“There will be a lot of hearings and opportunities for public input,” Newberg said. “Everybody has their own opinion on wind farms and we will be glad to hear what those are. As county board members in the end, we will put those personal feelings aside, listen to all of the feedback and then determine if it should go forward or not.”