BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
HOOPESTON — Property intended for a wind farm south of the Hoopeston area has again changed hands.
Development of the Hoopeston Wind farm has been ongoing 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.
Now, a representative of Apex Wind Energy Inc. confirmed Friday afternoon that the company has taken over the project. Company Communications Manage Dahvi Wilson indicated in an e-mail that Apex acquired the Hoopeston Wind farm from GDF SUEZ in February.
Apex Wind Energy, Inc. is an independent renewable energy company based in Charlottesville, Va.
Since its founding in 2009, Apex has completed 10 acquisitions and has project sites in 20 states, including Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Since the beginning, the Hoopeston Wind 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.
Early projections at one time called for the project to be completed by next year.
Wilson indicated Apex is “just beginning the process of extensively reviewing and assessing the project” with the intent of drafting a plan for the company’s next few steps.
A permit for the Hoopeston Wind farm was approved by the Vermilion County Board in April 2011.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Donahue said Friday that Apex will not have to reapply for that permit, indicating that when the company bought the rights to the property, the permit was included.
As a result, a two-year timeframe to begin construction remains in effect, Donahue said. The two years began the day the permit from the county was signed.
Once completed, the Hoopeston Wind farm will be the second in Vermilion County. Invenergy’s California Ridge wind farm officially began operations at the end of December.
County board members decided earlier this week to schedule a public forum on the wind farm issue. Several residents and a county board member asked for a change to the county’s ordinance regarding setback distances of the wind turbines from buildings and property lines. The forum will allow county board members to hear comments on the proposed changes.
No specific date for the forum was set, but it should be scheduled within the next 45 days.