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Wind-energy project advancement requires meeting conditions

Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Sep. 10--Morgan County has approved possible sites for up to 107 wind turbines in the county, but the company behind the Lincoln Land Wind project will have to work out lingering questions before applying for a permit to build the structures.

Apex Clean Energy still must meet several of 41 conditions added to its application during the board of appeals public hearing before construction could begin.

Morgan County commissioners approved the siting permit for the Lincoln Land Wind project on Tuesday.

Some of the biggest conditions remaining to be met include Federal Aviation Administration approval of the Aircraft Detection Lighting System, road-use agreements and a plan for decommissioning the structures once the project reaches its end decades from now.

Commissioner Ginny Fanning said many of the items already are being worked on.

"The road-use agreements are still a work in progress with our county highway department," Fanning said. "The decommissioning plan, which is very important to all of us, is also in the works."

The cost of decommissioning is currently being established by Springfield-based Patrick Engineering, which the county hired to evaluate the application. The cost will be evaluated every five years.

The application proposes up to 107 wind turbines within a 38,000-acre area in the southeastern portion of the county near Franklin, Alexander and Waverly and moving into Sangamon County near New Berlin.

The project would generate enough power -- more than 1 million megawatts -- to serve about 105,000 houses a year.

The added conditions were recommended by Patrick Engineering.

Other conditions include clarification of locations for access roads, especially during the decommissioning plan; safeguards during the decommissioning process at the end of the project; and the establishment of a COVID-19 response plan during construction.

The conditions also stipulate that Apex will adhere to all recommendations made by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regarding environmental impacts, as well as other studies conducted involving the turbine sites.

The application includes 119 possible turbine sites, though only 107 turbines will be built. The remaining 12 sites will be alternate sites.

Apex spokeswoman Jaci Friedley said the company is looking at all conditions and working to meet them.

"This process will likely take a few months," she said. "For example, ADLS lighting from the FAA will need to be complete prior to requesting building permits. We expect to have a positive ruling from the FAA and will be in touch with the county once we have their response."

Not all of the conditions are pre-construction conditions, Fanning said.

"Some of the conditions have different timing elements," she said. "The items that must be complete prior to the building permits will have to be done."

The siting application was approved with a 2-0-1 vote. Board Chairman Brad Zeller abstained from the vote.

"I have family that have agreements with Apex," Zeller said.


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Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Sep 14, 2020 12:51 pm GMT

The cost of decommissioning is currently being established by Springfield-based Patrick Engineering, which the county hired to evaluate the application. The cost will be evaluated every five years.

I would like to know if the decommissioning plan includes the costs and methods for responsible disposal of the turbine blades. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 14, 2020 4:25 pm GMT

Is there reason to think that they wouldn't? Is such disposal not standard in these calculations?

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