Articles from Illinois
The elusive winged mammals who make special appearances in decorations and throughout popular culture during the fall are under increasing threats across the state and the Midwest, the victim of a stubborn and spreading disease, shrinking natural habitat and a growing wind turbine industry. And with new changes to the Endangered Species Act, scientists and environmental advocates fear additional species of bats may be under siege from encroaching development and a changing, warming climate.
GALVA — Opponents of a proposed wind farm in east-central Henry County gathered at Black Hawk East College Wednesday night to hear about the impact of wind turbines on quality of life and the local landscape.
Although the Indiana bat is listed as federally endangered, or in danger of becoming extinct, the Illinois Bat Conservation Program (www.illinoisbats.org) researchers have netted more of these bats than the once common little brown bat, which is not protected, and the northern long-eared bat, which is a threatened species at risk of becoming endangered.
There aren’t many options to recycle or trash blades, and what options there are is expensive, partly because the U.S. wind industry is so young. It’s a waste problem that runs counter to what the industry is held up to be: a perfect solution for environmentalists looking to combat climate change, an attractive investment for companies like Budweiser and Hormel Foods and a job creator across the Midwest and Great Plains.
The board will not accept applications for special use permits for about 18 months while commissioners revise the ordinance, board Chairman Robert Elmore said.
Rick Porter, the attorney for the 15 neighbors, said he had “yet to deal with a 50-page motion to dismiss.” “It seems they're trying to litigate the entire matter in a motion to dismiss,” he said, adding that it was “before we even have a chance to bring in witnesses” in a trial. He said his clients were “citizens hiring an attorney battling a mega-company with an unlimited budget.”
A proposed wind farm on the Mississippi River bluffs near Valmeyer has been the subject of much debate since last summer. The most recent development occurred Aug. 19, when the Monroe County Board approved a moratorium on wind farms.
The board had voted down an addendum to the project’s decommissioning and restoration plan last month, which would have allowed BSW DevCo LLC (the company that owns Big Sky Wind) to use tilt/fell method over the crane method during the current repowering project. Big Sky is in the process of updating its turbines for more efficient models.
Construction has already begun for the new Harvest Ridge Wind Farm in Douglas County, but that hasn’t stopped an area village and more than 50 individuals from filing a pair of lawsuits against the project.
Last December, seven of the 12 board members indicated they would support a turbine setback of 2,250 feet from property lines to protect nonparticipating residents from the nuisances turbines can create, such as noise or shadow flicker, or the dangers associated with turbines catching fire or breaking. During a meeting of the board’s zoning committee on Monday night, however, two board members said they feel such a setback should only apply to residential land, not nonresidential properties.
Apex Clean Energy has proposed constructing 80 to 120 wind turbines in rural Morgan County for the Lincoln Land Wind project, but was waiting on updates to a Morgan County ordinance that came Monday. The Morgan County commissioners approved an updated ordinance addressing wind farms after more than a year of work on details of the regulation.
The new ordinance increases setbacks from 1,000 feet from a house’s foundation to 1,650 feet from the foundation of the home of a non-participating landowner and 1,320 feet from the foundation of the house of a participating landowner. ...“It’s disappointing,” said Mike Woodyard, who has been advocating for larger setbacks from the property line. “It’s a sad day when our county board refuses to recognize the rights of a property owner at the property line.”
Morgan County landowners who have signed on for a wind farm project may be getting a notice from the company they leased their land to. On Tuesday, the Ad Hoc Citizens For Property Rights Group reported that they had received documents in a FOIA request stating that participating landowners have had their leases sold to a new company – Lotus Wind LLC.
The suit asks that the special-use permit granted by the Henry County Board last December be declared void because, among other things, the county allegedly failed to hold a public hearing with notice of the particular location of the property. It also alleges Avangrid failed to identify a specific turbine model, the exact number of turbines and the final locations of turbines.
Board member Derek Whited, who is chairman of the zoning committee, is against the tilt/fell method, because of the uncertainty of its impact. He said the crane method has been the only kind of method used in Bureau County so far. He commented that when the wind company bought out the Big Sky Wind farm, they knew the decommissioning plan required them to use the crane method.
But the recent changes did include increased cost estimates for dismantling of the complex if it ceases operation. The company agreed to increase the dollar amount of the decommissioning performance bond and bear any additional costs of chemical application incurred by farmers who are not leasing land to EDP. Munson said some crop dusting contractors refuse to fly within a wind farm. Others will, but only at additional cost, he added.
Faced with mammoth amounts of information — studies, reports, comments from citizens — the Douglas County Board has pushed back a final vote on whether to let a wind farm set up shop. The board was scheduled to rule Monday on Texas-based EDP Renewables' application to build the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm in Newman and Murdock townships.
CLINTON — A $300 million wind farm will not be coming to DeWitt County. The DeWitt County Board voted 6-5 with one abstention Thursday night against a special-use permit from Tradewind Energy. The vote was taken after a two-hour meeting before a crowd of about 300 people at Clinton High School. Previously, the county's Zoning Board of Appeals and Regional Planning Commission also rejected the plan.
Board member and chairman of the county’s land use committee, Terry Ferguson, created some moments of suspense, when he introduced a series of conditions to attach to the motion to grant the special use permit. Conditions often are added to motions to try to ensure a project is conducted in accordance with county objectives. Ultimately, after some hesitation, Ferguson voted against granting the permit, creating a 6-5 vote with one abstention and failure of the motion.
Speakers addressed possible mechanical failures with wind turbines; noise; “shadow flickers” from turbine blades and other health effects; karst geology in the bluffs; other environmental issues such as wildlife and groundwater; property values; roads and other infrastructure; and “setbacks,” the required distances between turbines and homes, other structures and roadways. “There are too many what-ifs (with the current ordinance) to protect the taxpayers and the residents of our county,” said Rich Harsey, 47, of rural Waterloo.