KANKAKEE – Kankakee County might see new wind farms in the coming years, an official said this week.
Delbert Skimerhorn, the county’s zoning official, said a wind farm proposal in the Grant Park area will likely move forward. He said he last met with company representatives in February.
“As far as I know, it’s a viable project,” Skimerhorn said.
Chad Miller, manager of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau, said he also received an indication the company is moving forward.
They both spoke at the annual meeting of the Farmland Assessment Review Committee, which consists of county officials, farmers and township property assessors.
The Grant Park project is being pursued by NextEnergy. The backers of the project first presented their idea to local leaders in 2012. The company has an office in Grant Park.
In 2013, the Daily Journal reported that two dozen landowners had signed lease agreements for the building of wind turbines in the Grant Park area as part of the project.
The newspaper has been unable to reach company officials for comment.
During the meeting, Skimerhorn also indicated that two firms, E.ON and Pattern Energy, both are considering wind farm projects in eastern Kankakee County.
“There’s a chance those large projects could move forward,” Skimerhorn said.
In recent times, the county has processed applications for dozens of solar farms.
Skimerhorn reported the county received 41 solar farm applications last year, 38 of which the county board approved.
Earlier this year, the state approved nine solar farm proposals in the county for tax credits for renewable energy, which are seen as crucial for making such projects viable.
The projects are in Bonfield, St. Anne, Grant Park, Kankakee, Manteno and Momence.
“All the rest are listed as pending,” Skimerhorn said. “There is a movement to increase the number of credits. It’s a very popular program.”
In some cases, residents opposed nearby solar farm proposals.
“For the most part, those that were approved don’t have neighbors around them. They are surrounded by farms,” Skimerhorn said.
Asked how the Farm Bureau feels about wind and solar farms, Miller said his organization is a strong supporter of private property rights. At the same time, it is concerned with the loss of farmland to such projects, he said.
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