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Lee County Board approves Shady Oaks II wind farm expansion

DIXON – The Lee County Board signed off on Shady Oaks Wind Farm’s plan to add 28 turbines to its footprint.

The 109.5-megawatt wind farm near Compton went online in 2012 with 71 turbines. County zoning hearings were held last month, and the Zoning Board made a favorable recommendation to approve a special-use permit for Shady Oaks 2 LLC to add 25 to 28 new wind turbines in Wyoming and Brooklyn townships.

The County Board approved the petition unanimously.

Compton resident Karen McInnis spoke to the board, and said she is concerned that even though there are 230 turbines across five projects surrounding Compton, the village doesn’t see any benefits.

“Past and present village presidents of Compton have confirmed that the village has received not one dollar from wind farm companies for almost 20 years of living in the shadow of the turbines,” she said.

Wind farms have benefited participating property owners as well as communities such as Paw Paw, but Compton falls through the cracks, she said.

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. 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.

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.