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Lee County’s Shady Oaks wind farm looks to expand footprint

DIXON – A Lee County wind farm is looking to expand its footprint by up to 28 turbines.

The 109.5-megawatt Shady Oaks Wind Farm near Compton went online in 2012 with 71 turbines. County zoning hearings began this week to add 25 to 28 new wind turbines in Wyoming and Brooklyn townships.

Last year, Shady Oaks 2 LLC lined up more than 20 lease agreements and wind easements with landowners in the southeastern area of the county.

The company has about 4,300 acres leased, and turbines will be on about 43 acres, project manager Lauren McLeod said. The project would generate up to 118 megawatts, and the turbines would vary from 449 to 590 feet tall from the base to the tip.

The first year of real estate taxes for the project is estimated at about $1.37 million, said Sean Fairfield, senior director of energy projects.

Construction would begin around May 2021 and go online as early as October 2021, McLeod said, adding that they don’t anticipate any delays from the coronavirus pandemic.

Hearings are scheduled to continue at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and into next week if needed. The Lee County Zoning Board will gather testimony and then make a list of facts and findings before giving a recommendation to the County Board, which will have the final vote on whether to grant Shady Oaks with a special use permit for the project.

Meetings are streamed on the Lee County Illinois channel on YouTube and those who want to participate can do so via Zoom. Go to leecountyil.com for more information.

Shady Oaks is part of Oakville, Ontario-based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.’s Liberty Power Group, which includes about 1.7 gigawatts of hydroelectric, wind, solar, and thermal power systems.

In 2013, Algonquin bought Shady Oaks from Goldwind International for $148.9 million. Goldwind acquired the wind farm in 2011 from developer Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power.