BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DANVILLE — Some early work has begun on a second wind farm in Vermilion County.
Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard confirmed Friday that Apex Clean Energy, based in Charlottesville, Va., has begun work on a pad area where the transformer station will be constructed for the wind farm.
The transformer will hook the wind farm into the local power grid from there, Weinard said.
It’s the first work on the Hoopeston-area wind farm since the county approved a permit application in 2011.
Attempted development of the wind farm has been an ongoing affair since 2008. The most recent coordinator, GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc in Houston, Texas, took over in 2011 when it purchased the previous wind farm developer, International Power.
Apex acquired the wind farm from GDF SUEZ in February 2012.
Weinard said the company, at this point, plans to begin actual construction of the wind farm at the end of winter.
Dahvi Wilson, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an emailed statement that the company is working toward the wind farm being fully operational by 2015.
At the beginning, the Hoopeston project has called for the construction of 43 wind turbines along a stretch reaching from around 3 miles east of Illinois Route 49 to the area near the Hubbard Trail Country Club north of Rossville. A permit for the Hoopeston Wind Farm was approved by the Vermilion County Board in April 2011.
Wilson indicated Friday that a final turbine count for the project has not been determined, but expects somewhere between 40 and 50 turbines to be constructed. Upon completion, the project will produce enough electricity to power as many as 32,000 homes.
In May 2013, the Vermilion County Board issued Apex Clean Energy a one-year extension on its permit. Under terms of the permit, if the company had returned in May needing more time it would be up to board members to decide whether Apex would have to apply for a new permit.
Weinard said an interim road agreement already has been reached with Grant Township and the company is in the process of working on road agreements with other townships, including Ross and Butler.
All road agreements must be in place before the bulk of construction, including the turbines, can take place.
Once completed, the wind farm will be the second in Vermilion County. Invenergy’s California Ridge Wind Farm began operations in December 2012. It consists of more than 130 turbines — 104 of which are located in western Vermilion County.