CRYSTAL LAKE | A 100-turbine wind energy center in Hancock County is getting an upgrade.
That’s what a NextEra Energy Resources, LLC representative told the Hancock County Board of Supervisors Monday, Dec. 10, during its weekly meeting.
“These upgrades will be good for Hancock County and the Crystal Lake community,” said Conlan Kennedy, a NextEra Energy Resources spokesman. “It means we’ll generate more renewable energy over an extended period, which also extends the period we’ll generate payments to landowners and tax benefits.”
The upgrades are set to begin in January and be completed by May, so people who live and work near the center will see trucks, cranes and other equipment moving in and out of the area.
The project come more than a decade after the first Crystal Lake Wind Energy Center site, comprising 100 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbines, was completed in Hancock County.
Since the wind farm was built in 2008, there have been “significant enhancements in turbine technology.”
Kennedy said NextEra is working with General Electric to integrate the new technology, including longer blades and other turbine components, into the existing wind energy center to improve their performance and generate more electricity for customers.
“Think of it like taking an older car and installing a new, fuel-efficient engine in it to get better gas mileage and drive more cost-effectively,” he said.
The wind energy center features two additional sites in Winnebago County. One features 80 2.5-megawatt Clipper wind turbines, while the other consists of 44 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbines.
According to NextEra Energy Resources, the three sites are capable of producing enough electricity for about 67,000 homes.
NextEra Energy Resources, a leading generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun, operates more than 120 wind projects in 21 states and Canada.
Kennedy said the company has repowered other wind energy centers across the country to improve efficiency. A site in Winnebago County will also be upgraded.
A meeting was held for landowners to vocalize questions or concerns on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
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