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County hears wind farm update

MACOMB – On Wednesday, Macomb’s courthouse held a public hearing for the latest stages of a wind farm in McDonough County.
Many residents will remember that this project has been discussed for the past decade. The project has been acquired by Capital Power, and will now provide the same 150 megawatt output as the previous model, with 60 turbines instead of 110.
The more efficient plan was presented by CP’s Matthew Martin, senior manager of business development. Martin, coming all the way from Boston, explained that the new design is proposed to begin construction in spring of 2019, and to be completed within nine months. The installation will be commercially operational by 2020.
In that time, Martin said that Macomb would become a boom town, seeing all sorts of employment for construction, hotels being rented, homes being bought, and local commerce being generated.
Over the life of the Project, Martin said the farm will pay $37 million in property taxes, of which McDonough will get 70 percent. Of this property tax payment, 65 percent will be directed towards the county’s schools, which was mentioned at Monday night’s school board meeting as well.
A concerned citizen asked Martin to specify how much of this property tax would continue going into the county, and Martin explained that the amount paid does depreciate by three to four percent annually for 25 years.
“After those 25 years, that’s a good question,” Martin said.
The farm is projected to have a 30 year lifespan, during which there will be funds set aside for maintenance and refurbishing, as well as an upfront fund for decommissioning the wind farm when those 30 years are up. Martin said that Capital Power always aims to keep the farms up and running as long as possible.
The wind farm is set in an area with mostly flat land, access to highways, and a six mile southern proximity to Ameren’s power lines, but there are citizens who fear what their homes will be like within the acreage of the wind farm.

Public comment
One citizen was appreciative of the benefit it would have on clean energy and the community, but was upset with it surrounding his property on all sides. Martin assured the man that his home was within safe distance of the 45 decibel noise limit, and that the lights and “flickering” shadows wouldn’t be intrusive for his specific plot.
These arguments were backed by two experts hired by Capital Power, who surveyed the project to determine any noise-related issues, or effect on property value. Both experts argued that the project would be within wind ordinance limits in McDonough county, and that the farm would have no discernible value on the property.
Martin also added that Capital Power reimburses the cost of damage done to any roads during construction, and that most people who live near wind farms often come out with brand new roads at construction’s end.