DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — After years of discussion, the fate of a massive development was decided in a matter of 20 minutes.
The Douglas County Board voted to approve the construction of the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm.
Five voted yes, one abstained and Bibby Appleby voted no.
“All I care about is our earth.”Bibby Appleby
She’s the one board member who shared the voice of everyone in town who put up signs up in their front yards, because they don’t want EDP Renewables to stick the wind farm in their backyard.
“I don’t even really see how a farmer could farm around that,” said Appleby. “And my question is…What if one of the blades falls off during the growing season?”
But, there are many people who believe these winds of change are for the best.
“At the end of the day, we had enough willing landowners…more than 100 landowners who signed up about 10,000 acres of land to participate in the project,” said Amy Kurt, with EDP Renewables.
Kurt says they’re only taking 95 acres of farmland for this farm.
It’s a 200 megawatt project.
About 48 wind turbines will provide energy to a substation, which can power 70,000 homes…and energy isn’t the only thing it will make.
“Every megawatt of electricity that we will be producing is generating taxes to help pay for important public services.”Amy Kurt
It’s expected to bring 2.4 million dollars of tax revenue in just the first year.
For that reason, county board chairman Don Munson says “sure…Why not?Right now, Douglas county could use money. We’re like everybody else.”
Munson told us the county took time to draft a strict ordinance, so the wind farm’s construction would not disrupt the county’s infrastructure.
For example, there’s an agreement to redo the roads before construction equipment can come through.
“As long as the wind people demonstrate that they’re good neighbors…Fine. I welcome them.”Don Munson
Appleby worries that won’t be the case.
That’s why she still stood up to it, even when she knew she’d be standing alone.
“I voted by conscience, and I’m happy with myself,” said Appleby.
Now that the vote has passed, EDP Renewables says things will be moving quickly. Their goal is for the wind farm to be finished by December.
Here is a breakdown of how the tax revenue will be split between public services and schools: