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Bill to keep townships out of wind farm development heads to Pritzker’s desk

Illinois lawmakers have pushed through legislation that would keep townships from holding up wind farm construction in the midst of a court case over that issue in central Illinois.

The legislation would restrict regulation of wind farm establishment to the county or a municipality if the windmills are close enough. It would effectively remove townships from having any objection to wind farm construction.

Senator Chapin Rose, R-Mohamet, said that a township is fighting against a wind farm in his Champaign-area district and the bill was simply meant to squash that legal challenge.

“Instead of allowing those folks to have their day in court, we’re going to statutorily legislate an outcome for that court case,” he said Wednesday.

In an unusual move, Senators held a hearing on the bill when it was still in the House of Representatives, saying that they would discuss it, but not vote on it under the assumption that it would be sent straight to the Senate floor.

In a previous hearing, a representative with EDP Renewables, the company that is fighting the wind farm case in a Douglas County Court, said the suit was holding up the company’s progress on building a wind farm there, costing money and endangering the process in its entirety.

“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,” said Amy Kurt, a representative of EDP said last month.

State Sen. Chris Cunningham, the bill’s sponsor, said people who oppose wind farms should go to county government.

“If they have a problem with the siting of windmills in their community, do what the law says and go to the county board,” he said.

The legislation now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk for consideration.