BLOOMINGTON – A second wind farm is slated for northern McLean County.
Weeks after Chicago alternative energy company Invenergy filed for a special-use permit for a wind farm in Chenoa, Gridley, Lawndale, Lexington and Money Creek townships, Houston-based EDP Renewables North America has filed an application for its own farm in Chenoa, Lawndale and Yates townships.
The project, called Bright Stalk Wind Farm, would generate about 200 megawatts from 58 turbines on almost 5,000 acres of land, according to the application. It could be operational as soon as next year but as late as 2022.
“The project is anticipated to generate approximately $2.5 million in tax revenue in its first full year of operation and approximately $42.7 million in its first 20 years,” according to the application. “Up to 300 people may be hired for construction-related work, and an estimated 13 full-time positions will be needed to operate the wind farm.”
The county’s Zoning Board of Appeals will begin discussing the application at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6.
The project is smaller than Invenergy’s McLean County Wind Energy Center, a 250-megawatt farm with about 100 turbines on about 13,000 acres slated to be operational by 2021. Each project is expected to generate enough power for at least 69,000 homes.
Invenergy’s application has been the subject of four public hearings to date. A fifth is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in Room 400 at the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St., Bloomington.
Local residents continue to meet to discuss the project, including at a town hall meeting Sunday. Many have questioned Invenergy’s assumptions, including the project’s effect on property values, how much local schools and other taxing bodies would benefit, how far turbines are from homes, how noisy they’ll be and how much the proposed project will affect local wildlife.
Local laborers have appeared at hearings as well, arguing in favor of the wind farms because they generate economic development, including short-term construction jobs.
EDP started securing northern McLean County land leases in 2008, and officials approved Bright Stalk Wind Farm in 2010 – the last time the county approved a wind farm. Today, most of those leases have lapsed, and county approval for the project expired after three years.
Last year, officials added more regulations for future wind development, including specific setbacks, turbine heights, decommissioning requirements and wildlife impact studies, in anticipation of upcoming permit applications from one or both companies.
Wind farms currently operating in the county include Twin Groves Wind Farm, a two-phase, 198-megawatt farm near Ellsworth, and White Oak Energy Center, a 150-megawatt farm near Carlock.
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