MONTICELLO – Goose Creek Wind has submitted its Special Use Permit (SUP) application to Piatt County officials.
The 1,600-page application seeks approval for up to 60 wind turbine locations in the northern portion of the county for a 300 MW wind farm.
Of the approved locations, 50 total turbines would be constructed, officials said.
The application will be evaluated by the Piatt County Zoning Board of Appeals, who will give an advisory recommendation to the county board.
“I think this is a huge milestone for the project to work through everything it takes to get to this point,” said Apex Clean Energy Senior Development Manager Alan Moore. “It’s probably signifies the end of something and the beginning of something. It takes a lot of collaboration with landowners, a lot of collaboration with other stakeholders, and a lot of coordination amongst our team. But it means the start of the process of working with the county.”
Moore said he and his team our looking forward to the next step, which is providing details about the project to the public, zoning board and county board. Last week, Apex officials held a pair of open houses – one in Mansfield and another in Monticello – to discuss the project.
“This application reflects years of careful study and due diligence to produce a world-class project that will significantly benefit the entire community,” Moore said. “Our comprehensive application, which includes over 1,600 pages of supporting documentation, shows that we’ve met or surpassed every standard laid out in Piatt County’s rigorous wind ordinance.”
Moore said the project is anticipated to bring over $89 million in tax revenue to the county over the course of its 30-year lifetime.
“Wind energy represents a huge opportunity for rural counties, bringing new tax revenue, jobs, and increasing local property values,” Moore added. “We’re confident that Goose Creek Wind will deliver all of those benefits to Piatt, and our permit application demonstrates that in detail.”
Apex officials would like to have the county board approve the SUP by the end of the year. If that happens and the project comes online in 2023, Goose Creek has committed an additional $5 million through a revenue sharing agreement. Last month, the board tabled passage of that agreement. It is on the agenda for next week’s meeting.
But before the county can vote on the project, a series of public meetings in front of the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals will be held.
In DeWitt County there were 17 nights of testimony.
Moore said he is unsure of how many nights of public hearings will be held.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t really even guess. Ultimately, the flow of those meetings is set by the county, so we will work with them throughout the process. (Zoning Officer) Keri (Nusbaum) has been very easy to work with and we look forward to this next major step. We will have all of our experts there and ready to explain the process and answer any questions.”
A final count on the number of people who attended the open houses was not available, but Apex officials were happy with the number of people who attended.
“We held community forums which started back in 2019 and so, there are probably a lot of people who have already made up their minds about the project, one way or the other,” said Max Jabrixio, director of public engagement for Apex. “But surprisingly, there are still a lot of people who haven’t made up their minds yet. Another pro-wind group did some door-knocking not too long ago and found a pretty even split on those who were in favor of wind, compared to those who were against wind. About 30% had not made up their minds.”
Opponents of wind energy
But some of those who were against wind energy also showed up at the open houses, holding up signs outside.
Cindy Martin of Mansfield was among those against the wind farm, gathering with other opponents outside of the Mansfield open house.
“I live out in the country and I understand if I want to build on my property, I may be restricted on what I can build because of the distance of the turbine,” she said. “Why should I as a property owner be restricted on what I do on my property because of the wind farm?”
Sandy Coile, also of Mansfield is opposing the proposed project.
“I moved to Mansfield two years ago and I moved here because I want to live in the country,” she said. “I want to see the trees and I want to see the corn and I want to see the beans and I think all of that is beautiful. Had I known at the time that wind farms would be coming in here, I probably would not have bought in Mansfield.”
She said she is also concerned about her property values.
“I had a realtor come to my home and we talked about it and her comment was that she has never had anyone asked to be shown a property near a wind farm. So I am concerned about property values – not only my own, but the people who live in the country and my neighbors. We like Piatt County the way it is – rural. We don’t want it to be industrialized. This farm land is supposed to be farmland and it is not supposed to be industrial or commercial. We want to keep it the way it is.”
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