MONTICELLO – A special-use permit to build a proposed 300-megawatt wind farm in Piatt County could be filed by the fall, say officials with Apex Energy.
“We plan on filing in the summer or early fall,” said Alan Moore, project developer for the proposed Goose Creek Wind Farm. “We are excited to share everything about the project with the public.
“That would obviously start with the county board with our permit application and of course, the landowners who are participating as well. It’s certainly a public project and something that we are proud of and happy to share.”
Moore said between 50 and 60 turbines are expected to be built.
“We are working on finalizing all of that now,” he said. “The reason we don’t have the maps out now is because they aren’t final and it is not helpful to put something out that is going to change in the future.”
The proposed footprint is in northern Piatt County. Last week, the Piatt County Board approved language to help protect drainage districts during construction.
“That was a very big step for us,” said Josh Hartke, Apex’s Illinois field manager.
“We are ready to move forward,” he added.
Once the application for the special-use permit is filed, there will be a series of public meetings and discussions with the Piatt County Zoning Board of Appeals and the county board.
“As you can imagine, a big construction process like this is a work in progress and we only want to put accurate information out there,” Hartke said.
Representatives from Goose Creek Wind Farm hosted a local business fair this month at the Monticello Community Building.
“Our approach is that we have always tried to be very open about our plans, our project, our goals and our mission as a company,” he said.
“We try to uphold the standards of our company and are concerned about safety and integrity.”
The typical construction duration for a wind farm is approximately nine months from the start of construction to the commercial operation date.
The work consists of upgrading and building new stone roads, forming and pouring large concrete foundations, installing underground electrical systems and overhead high-voltage transmission lines, constructing a project-specific substation, erecting the wind turbine tower and generator and completing the mechanical and electrical connections.
“If we submit this summer or fall, or goal is to be operation by the end of 2023,” Moore said. “These projects can come together very quickly so we have community events in an effort to work with local businesses.”
Moore said that so far, most of the feedback from the community has been positive.
“We have had a lot of support from folks in the county,” he said.
“If you look at neighboring counties, there are already wind farms in operation and so it is something that is common in central Illinois, just not yet in Piatt County. McLean County has several. It’s a different conversation in Piatt County because people are just learning about them.”
Hartke said while the company continues to prepare the special-use permit application, others will be focusing on community engagement.
“We will be having more events like this as a way to get to know the public, and the businesses here in the county because during our project, local businesses will have the opportunity to earn some money as well,” he said. “We definitely want to be available for folks and they are free to contact us at any time.”
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