DIXON – One community member spoke out against a proposed project to expand the Shady Oaks wind farm as testimony wrapped up this week.
The company that owns the 109.5-megawatt Shady Oaks Wind Farm near Compton, which went online in 2012 with 71 turbines, is pursuing a special-use permit from the county to add 25 to 28 new turbines to its footprint in Wyoming and Brooklyn townships.
The Lee County Board had three hearings this week to gather evidence and testimony about the project, and the group will meet next week to decide facts and findings while voting on a recommendation that will go to the County Board.
Karen McInnis, of Compton, said if approved, Shady Oaks II will be the fifth wind farm surrounding the village, totaling 169 turbines in a 5-mile radius.
She gave testimony that she’s seen shadow flicker from turbines on state Route 251, and it’s possible the new turbines could cause shadow on Interstate 39.
Zoning Board member Craig Buhrow said they usually have more community members participate in wind farm hearings and asked McInnis what concerns she’s heard from neighbors.
McInnis said she’s been told they have too many turbines in the area and that residents don’t think the county listens to them.
In closing statements, Courtney Kennedy, a Dixon attorney representing the wind farm, said they’ve heard testimony stating that the wind farm will benefit the county and area with tax revenue, it will have little to no effect on the proposed area that’s mostly agricultural, it’s an extension of an existing project, projected noise levels fall within state law, and the company has agreed to work with households that would be more affected by shadow flicker.
Aaron Anderson, director of renewable energy at Burns & McDonnell who did the shadow flicker study for the project, said that out of 509 households, 460 shouldn’t experience any shadow flicker. About 15 would see 10 to 30 hours a year of shadow flicker, and five could see more than 30 hours a year.
Sean Fairfield, senior director of energy products, said they would work with those affected who complain on a case-by-case basis and help mitigate the shadow flicker, with vegetation or awnings.
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.
Real estate taxes for the project are estimated to bring in $1.37 million the first year, Fairfield said.
Construction would begin around May 2021 and go online as early as October 2021.
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.
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