Proposed wind farm met with pushback and support

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DEWITT COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — People shared both concern and support for a company’s request to build a windfarm in Dewitt County at a public hearing Wednesday night.

Tradewind Energy is attempting to get the windfarm built for the second time. Many people in Dewitt County didn’t want it last time it was proposed in 2018 and the county denied the special permit to change the zoning ordinance. Tradewind Energy is now requesting the special use permit again to build the windfarm on land in between Waynesville, Wapella, and Clinton.

The company presented its proposal to the public. People have been giving their testimonies either in favor or opposition to the plan during the public hearings. While some are all for it, others don’t want the company to build in the county they live in.

Tom Swierczewski with Tradewind Energy says, “We have about 200 participating landowners, about 95 of which are actually in this project, a little over 12,000 total acres we’re proposing not more than 66 individual wind turbines.”

The company is awaiting the approval from the zoning board and the county. But before that decision is made, people are getting the chance to share their thoughts at a series of public hearings in the month of January.

There are many with opposing opinions. Andrea Rhoades says, “Those who aren’t getting paid for the project but live in the foot print are going to have to live with the impacts of the turbines and they’re not even getting compensated for it so think of all the shadow flicker they’re going to endure and the noise that these turbines put off they’ll have to live with that day in and day out.”

Rhoades is not in favor of the project for many reasons. She says, “We saw on December 1, 2018 just south of us, a severe storm got blocked from the weather radar. We’re concerned that’s going to happen here because the turbines are taller and closer to the Doppler in Lincoln.”

The company did address the concern of interference by the turbines. Swierczewski says, “We had one of the nation’s leading experts in weather radar and wind turbine operations testify that there’s really not going to be a problem. The national weather service has said that as well and they are the expert agency and they have told us no other consultation as necessary.”

The concerns echoed a similar sentiment by people who objected the company’s proposal in 2018, when Tradewind Energy applied for the same special use permit that was denied by the county. This time around, they modified the plan, and decided to try again. Swierczewski says, “In all wind projects you’re looking for a supportive land owner group and available transmission capacity, and a good wind resource. Dewitt county has all three of those things.”

There will be several more hearings continuing into next week. After that concludes, the zoning board will check to see if the company’s proposal meets the ordinance criteria. They will either approve or deny the application. Then it’ll move on to the county board for a final decision.

Tradewind Energy says if the county grants them the special use permit, they hope to start construction in the fall and finish the project by the end of next year. It’ll cost about $300,000,000.

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