LACON – Interest in wind energy has been picking up in Marshall County, where a long-dormant project is being resurrected and a new one is in the early stages of development.
County engineer and zoning administrator Patrick Sloan briefed the County Board on Thursday on activities that include a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing scheduled for next week.
The hearing, set for 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at the courthouse, will focus on an application by Texas-based Calpine Wind Holdings LLC for a special use permit to erect a 328-foot meteorological tower in Bennington Township southeast of Toluca.
The tower would be located off County Road 200N on farmland owned by the Lockhart Family Limited Partnership, according to the application. In a common first step for possible wind farm development, it would be for the purpose of “verification of wind speed, direction, and atmospheric conditions,” the application states.
If recommended by the ZBA and later approved by the County Board, it would be the third such tower erected in that southeast section of the county. Two others have previously been installed by Minonk Stewardship Wind LLC, which is the developer now separately trying to resurrect a dormant project for which wind turbines were permitted several years ago but never constructed.
The renewed effort is a joint project of Chicago-based Akuo Energy USA and Stewardship Energy LLC of Tiskilwa. The developers had erected a 267-foot tower in 2010 and obtained permits for 16 wind turbines in 2012, but county time limits expired without any construction taking place.
“That permit’s gone. They’re starting over,” Sloan pointed out at an earlier meeting.
But a new 198-foot tower was permitted last summer, and company officials have now indicated that they are nearing readiness to begin a new application process for wind turbines, Sloan told the board Thursday.
“They’re saying they’ll probably bring an application in this spring,” Sloan said.
A new state law requiring utilities to use more sustainable sources has been a major factor in reviving the project, an Akuo representative said at the ZBA hearing on the second tower. The developers envision a larger project this time, with bigger turbines reflecting technological advances in the industry, though the precise locations have not all been nailed down yet, Sloan noted Thursday.
“They have a good idea where they’re going to put (the turbines), but it’s not finalized yet,” Sloan said.
If either project ultimately gets developed, it would be the second wind farm in Marshall County. About 60 turbines are located in the western part of the county in the 100-turbine Camp Grove Wind Farm, which straddles the Stark County line.