Wind energy facility paying off
Initial construction on a wind energy facility in Woodford County has yet to begin, but the county already has received a financial windfall from it.
Gamesa Technology Corp., the developer of Minonk Wind LLC, has issued the county two checks that total almost $900,000, Zoning Administrator Kim Holmes said.
Special-use permits, 911 addressing fees and storm water-control fees for 75 wind turbines accounted for $369,625. The remaining $525,000 was paid as part of the state’s high-impact business program, which involves tax credits similar to those offered within an enterprise zone.
Holmes revealed the dollar figures Tuesday night during the Woodford County Board’s conservation, planning and zoning committee’s regular meeting. She said she received the checks earlier that day.
Once Gamesa provides the county with a letter of credit, the permits are expected to be issued for a project proposed almost four years ago.
“I’m glad the decision has been made and that definitely this is happening,” Holmes said. “Now we know which direction we’re going to go.”
The County Board approved the project in July 2010. The wind farm is located east-southeast of Minonk and extends into Livingston County, where an additional 25 turbines are to be built.
David Rosenberg, vice president of marketing and communications for Gamesa, said the letter of credit probably will be issued next week. Construction could commence in early April, he said, and take between three and six months.
“This is a fairly sizeable wind farm,” Rosenberg said Wednesday by telephone from Gamesa offices in suburban Philadelphia. “This demonstrates how Illinois is rapidly becoming a leader in clean-energy development. It’s a good project.”
Gamesa has constructed four other wind farms in Illinois - about 290 turbines located in Bureau, LaSalle and Lee counties, Rosenberg said.
The permit money already had been accounted for in Woodford County’s budget for the 2012 fiscal year. That budget projected a surplus of about $290,000.
Once the wind farm is operating commercially, Gamesa is to owe the county $2,475,000, a second high-impact business payment.
Still, one zoning committee member believed the money could have been better.
“We left millions of dollars on the table for this deal. Just a few bucks, even though it looks real good,” said Tom Evans, who had voted against the project.
The committee is close to completing a revision of county regulations regarding wind farms.