The Vermilion County Board approved wind energy structure ordinance amendments at its Tuesday meeting.

The vote was 11-9, with two abstaining and five county board members absent.

“The big change was the setback,” said County Board Chairman Larry Baughn, adding that there were some changes, updating too with state statutes. “Our current ordinance was so old.”

The ordinance’s purpose is: to assure that any structures, and equipment connected to such structures, used in the development and production of wind-generated electricity in Vermilion County are safe and effective; to facilitate economic opportunities for local residents; and to promote the supply of wind energy in support of Illinois’ statutory goal increasing energy production from renewable energy sources while adhering to required structural regulations to enhance safety.

Changes include: to ensure the safety of surrounding buildings and owners, all WECS (Wind Energy Conversion System) Towers shall be set back at least 1,200 feet or three times the height of the WECS tower, whichever is greater, from any primary structure; and upon complaint of any resident as to noise levels the applicant at its own expense shall conduct a sound study using qualified professionals acceptable to the county to examine and resolve such complaints. The county shall have full access to all data and reports or findings of any such studies.

The setback had been at least 1.10 times the wind turbine height.

The county already has wind farms, outside Rossville and on Route 49, with three others looking at county land.

Tri Global Energy has been one, looking between Georgetown and Ridge Farm. Another is Liberty Power, which has been leasing land around Sidell. The third is looking in the area of Rankin and East Lynn.

Baughn estimates all the companies are “a good year away” from coming to the county for any permitting.

The county board also approved Jamaica bridge and culvert projects, and a resolution for usage of American Recovery Act funding.

Baughn said county officials are looking at what projects and programs to use COVID-19 money on.

“A few organizations are seeking help from us for projects,” he said.

One of those is working with the land bank and helping with some low-income household improvements in the outlying areas.

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