March 16, 2019

Illinois lawmakers ready to rush law on wind farm regulations amid court battle

By Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News Network |

Some Illinois lawmakers want to rush through legislation that would change the dynamic for a plan to erect dozens of wind turbines in central Illinois.

The bill has yet to pass House muster, but Illinois’ state Senators discussed it in committee Thursday with the plan to send it quickly for a vote once it goes to their chamber, a rare move for the General Assembly.

The measure would restrict wind farm regulations outside of a municipality to the county alone, excluding townships.

Amy Kurt, a representative of EDP Renewables, the company planning to build in Douglas County, said allowing smaller governmental units to restrict wind farms could hurt the entire industry.

“For the townships to get thrown in at this late hour when we don’t think the law is there is really troubling for the development of the wind energy industry in Illinois,” she said.

Residents of Murdock Township in Douglas County are suing to apply tougher restrictions on a proposed EDP wind farm project there.

Mahomet Sen. Chapin Rose said he understands both sides of the argument. However, he said lawmakers should never try to subvert the process for an ongoing court case.

“Why are we here?” he said. “If we weren’t trying to tell the local judge on a legitimate complaint brought by two parties who, frankly, disagree.”

EDP plans to begin construction on the wind farm later this spring. It has already sold energy it plans to generate.

The Texas-based company wants to invest $340 million in a 200-megawatt wind farm. The company said an investment of that scope would be able to generate enough power to supply 69,000 average Illinois homes, according to reports.

An analysis by the Champaign News-Gazette found wind turbines in the area generated nearly $10 million in tax revenue in 2016 and 2017.

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