From WILL - News Headlines -

Wind Turbine Project Headed to UI Board of Trustees

An effort to build a wind turbine on the University of Illinois campus will appear on the Board of Trustees' agenda during its March 23 meeting in Springfield.

The plan calls for a single wind turbine on the university's South Farms site. It was estimated to cost $4.5 million, but last week the university increased that value by $700,000. University spokesman Tom Hardy said a challenge confronting the U of I is finding a way to close that budget gap.

"Still a lot of work to do on this project, not the least of which is how to close a nearly $700,000 funding gap," Hardy said. "In the meantime, the turbine project will be presented for consideration by the full board."

Suhail Barot, the Committee Chair with the Student Sustainability Committee, said he met Tuesday afternoon with U of I President Michael Hogan. Barot said Hogan told him the energy project would move forward.

"He did ask us to look into finding whatever we can do to help cover the budget shortfalls," Barot said. "We will help with it, but we don't know to what degree."

Students at the University of Illinois have been talking about setting up a wind turbine on campus for the last several years. It was originally introduced in 2003 by Students for Environmental Concerns (SECS), who initiated a student fee to support clean energy. By 2008, then-Chancellor Richard Herman canceled the project because of budget concerns.

A $2 million grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation supporting the project needs to be used before it expires at the end of May 2011.

At its meeting next month, the Board of Trustees is expected to vote on a contract with an energy company hired to build the turbine.

Champaign County residents have raised concerns about the project's cost, shadows produced by the turbine throughout the day, and the amount of noise pollution that would be generated.