The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

June 15, 2011

Invenergy Wind LLC files to build large farm

DANVILLE — The largest proposed wind farm in Vermilion County to date has filed an application to build.

Vermilion County received a check on Friday for $105,000 from Invenergy Wind LLC to construct 105 wind turbines as part of the company’s California Ridge Wind Energy Project.

According to the application filed by the company, the California Ridge wind project starts along County Road 2150N just north of Newtown in Pilot Township and stretches north and west to just across the line into Compromise and Ogden townships in Champaign County.

The project is expected to be 214 megawatts in size, consisting of as many as 134 wind turbines, 104 of which will be in Vermilion County.

The project, once completed, will be the second largest Invenergy wind farm project in the United States. An operating wind farm in Texas is currently listed at 250 megawatts. In all, Invenergy has a total of 20 operating wind farms in the United States and Europe and another eight are under construction or in contract, including three in Illinois.

County board chairman Jim McMahon said there is no immediate schedule for the application process, which includes meeting by the board’s structural safety committee as well as public meetings allowing residents near the wind farm area to express their opinion.

He said the county will follow Invenergy’s lead on a meeting schedule.

“It could happen in the next month or it could be six to eight months from now,” he said.

This is the second wind farm project to reach the application stage in Vermilion County. The Hoopeston Wind Project, owned by GDF SUEZ Energy North America Inc., was the first to file for an application to build a wind farm, filing earlier this year.

The Hoopeston Wind Project called for the construction of more than 40 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.

However, the company asked to put the project on hold earlier this year with the county indicating the company had been looking for an upgrade to power lines to handle the electricity generated by the turbines. The $47,000 application fee paid to the county was put in escrow.

McMahon said Invenergy does not face the same power line problems, allowing the company to proceed ahead with its wind farm project.

The decision by Invenergy to file its application is a benefit in terms of the county’s current wind policy. At the insistence of residents Darrell and Kim Cambron, county attorney Bill Donahue is in the process of going over the policy, checking it against claims of problems in the policy by the Cambrons.

Donahue said he will turn in an early draft of his report to McMahon next week. But whether or not any changes are made, Invenergy’s application allows it to be grandfathered in under the original terms of the policy.

Donahue could not give an indication as to whether his report will call for changes.

“I have to stay away from hearsay and ‘Internet science,’” he said. “It’s my job to look at the facts.”

Kim Cambron stood before the county board at its Tuesday meeting, asking members to slow down until the wind policy is revisited.

Three other wind farm projects are still being considered in Vermilion County. Horizon’s wind turbine placement, called the Broadlands project, is centered around the village of Broadlands in Champaign County, extending outward into Vermilion, Douglas and Edgar counties.

Eco-Energy is handling the second wind farm project, which extends from the southeast corner of the county and along the southern border of the county.

A third and final project is being looked at in the far northwestern corner of the county by the company Iberdrola.

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