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Meteorological tower approved for possible Marshall County wind farm

LACON – A third meteorological tower will soon be going up in the southeast corner of Marshall County in preparation for a possible wind farm.

Like the other two already there, the tower given final approval by the County Board last week will be used to measure and record wind speeds, directions, and other weather variables at different altitudes. It will be erected by Texas-based Calpine Wind Holdings LLC.

“This is an early-stage study that will gauge the feasibility of a wind farm in Bennington, Evans, and Bell Plain Townships,” Calpine development director Derek Rieman explained at an early Zoning Board of Appeals hearing.

Calpine envisions 50 to 75 wind turbines spread across that quadrant of the county in what is being called the Grange Hall Wind Farm, Rieman said. Discussions are being held with interested landowners, and the company expects to have locations defined and a project ready to seek a special use permit in about a year, he estimated.

The other two towers have been erected by Minonk Stewardship Wind LLC, a joint project of Chicago-based Akuo Energy USA and Stewardship Energy LLC of Tiskilwa. That project had lain dormant for several years, but was recently resurrected with a goal of developing 30-40 turbines, a company representative said at an earlier hearing.

Minonk Stewardship representatives have said they expect to bring forward an application for that project this spring, but have not done so yet, zoning administrator Patrick Sloan told the county board.

The Calpine tower, which is expected to be erected as soon as weather permits, will be taller than the other two, which are 198 and 267 feet, Sloan noted. At more than 300 feet, it will also be subject to FAA regulations, he said.