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Champaign County ZBA Approves Wind Farm

It took two attempts, but Champaign County's Zoning Board of Appeals has recommended the county board approve the construction of a wind farm near Royal.

The 4-to-3 vote Thursday night came after Chicago-based Invenergy added language to a reclamation agreement concerning salvage value of its 30 wind turbines should the wind farm have to shut down early. ZBA members have also cited the potential for noise pollution at neighboring homes.

Invenergy has also said its standards regarding noise pollution will comply with the Illinois Pollution Control Board. But ZBA member Brad Passalacqua says that language in the permit is too vague for him.

"My concern is for the good of the county, and for the participating (land) owners, as well as the people who don't participate in this project," he said. "We don't want to create a situation where they have injury to their property, or their happiness and life, and their home. It's just a very tender area that we need to be very cautious with."

Republican Champaign County Board member Alan Nudo says he still hasn't decided how he'll vote when the full board takes up the issue in two weeks. Two weeks ago, ZBA members cited its concerns in a 5-2 vote against approving the wind farm. The Champaign County Board's Committee of the Whole sent the project back to the ZBA earlier this week.

But Nudo says he now has a better perspective on this issue after Invenergy added language to its special use permit giving Champaign County 'absolute protection' against liability.

"I still don't want to be a speculator in commodities, and I think that there's some room for negotiations with them to come up with a better formula," he said. "But that being said, I have a much better perspective of what they're trying to do, and I think that they are offering something that they haven't offered to other counties."

Invenergy attorney Michael Blazer says new language in the agreement ensures that whoever the company finances the project with will also be obligated to decommission the turbines in the event they ever take over the project.

The full Champaign County Board will take up the wind farm on November 17th. Construction on Vermilion County's portion of the wind farm is already underway.

Categories: Energy, Government, Politics