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Champaign County Board Unanimously Approves Wind Farm

A Chicago-based wind energy company will start preliminary work on placing 30 turbines in northeastern Champaign County.

After hours of debate in the county's Zoning Board of Appeals, the county board Thursday night unanimously approved Invenergy's special use permit and a road agreement in a matter of minutes. The company will also place 100 turbines in Vermilion County as part of what's called California Ridge Wind Farm.

But Invenergy Vice President for Development Kevin Parczyk said for a while, there will be little to see in the area north of Royal, where the wind farm is locating in Champaign County.

"Because it's spread out over such a large area, there's a lot of things that people don't even see happening," he said. "And really where it's going to be happening is probably in mid to late spring, you'll start seeing the turbines arriving, and then they'll start popping up. A lot of prep work has taken place, and it will for the next six months or so."

"Today is a momentous day," County Board Democrat Alan Kurtz said.

Parczyk said the work of wind farm construction is very sequential, and is constantly moving, but he expects work in an area north of Royal to start this spring. He said the wind farm will mean 150 to 200 construction jobs, plus those for local vendors who provide stone, concrete and other needs for completing the project.

Parczyk said public road work and foundation excavation is underway in Vermilion County, where the county board approved Invenergy's permit last month.