August 13, 2021

McLean County Board paves way for wind farm construction

Watch now: McLean County Board paves way for wind farm construction | Kade Heather | The Pantagraph | Aug 12, 2021 |

BLOOMINGTON – Construction for McLean County’s fifth wind farm inched nearer Thursday, as the county board approved a Pontiac construction company’s bid to overlay a main road to be used in the wind farm’s construction phase.

The McLean County Board approved Chicago-based Invenergy’s $350 million Sapphire Sky wind farm project last month. The project will bring at least 64 590-foot-tall turbines across more than 14,000 acres in southeast McLean County.

Board members accepted Pontiac-based H.J. Eppel & Co. Contractors’ nearly $392,000 bid to pour a hot-mix asphalt over the existing oil and chip surface on County Highway 15 between U.S. Route 136 and East 300 North Road in Sabina.

McLean County Engineer Jerry Stokes said the road is directly adjacent to a batch plant area and laydown yard for construction.

“There’s going to be a lot of heavy truck traffic coming in and out of there,” Stokes said. “It’s just making the road stronger to handle the heavy loads.”

He said construction on the wind farm is expected to begin Oct. 15.

The building phase of the new farm is expected to create about 380 jobs for the county and 965 jobs for the state, while the 30-year wind farm will bring 36 long-term jobs to McLean County and 55 long-term jobs to the state.

The turbines are estimated to power 80,000 homes and bring the county more than $1.8 million annually.

In other business, the McLean County Board voted to continue the county’s declaration of local disaster through Sept. 17 in response to severe flooding and water damage caused by storms between June 25 and June 27.

The disaster declaration activated the McLean County Emergency Operations Plan, allowing a sharing of government resources and supporting state or local agency requests for assistance.

The board also plans to resume YouTube livestreaming for all committee meetings after this was halted in July with COVID-19 restrictions uplifted. Several citizens spoke against the stoppage of livestreaming at a previous meeting.

The board approved Thursday an emergency appropriation to add $15,000 to its current budget in overtime pay for staff to facilitate livestreaming services for all committee and board meetings for the rest of the fiscal year.

A staff memo from McLean County Interim Administrator Cassy Taylor said a long-term solution would be to hire an additional person at about a $55,000 salary who would “address media, including streaming of County Board and Standing Committee meetings.”

Craig Nelson, McLean County director of information technologies, wrote in a memo that the county board’s May meeting received 1,069 viewers, up from 746 viewers in April and 452 viewers in March.

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