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Lee County Zoning Board recommends granting wind farm’s request for more turbines

DIXON – The Lee County Zoning Board gave a favorable recommendation for a wind farm to expand its fleet of turbines.

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.

After several hearings in the last couple of weeks collecting evidence, testimony and findings for the proposed project, the Zoning Board voted to move forward and send its recommendation to the Lee County Board, which will give the final vote next month.

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, said Sean Fairfield, senior director of energy products.

Construction could 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.