Friday, May 08, 2009
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Elkhart grain elevator requests enterprise zone

More wind turbines on the Logan County horizon

(Originally posted Thursday afternoon)

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[May 08, 2009]  Wednesday night the Logan County Regional Planning Commission heard about two projects that would benefit from enterprise zone designation.

Elkhart Grain Company in Elkhart is requesting to be added to the Lincoln and Logan County Enterprise Zone. The company would find most value from the designation in the relief it would get from the state's natural gas sales tax.

Also it would help with construction costs. At least one additional silo is in the company's plans. "They have corn going on the ground now," said Phil Mahler, enterprise zone manager. Silos cost around a half-million dollars to construct, he added.

Additions to the enterprise zone are made by extending 3-foot wide corridors to sites to maintain contiguous contact. There is already a corridor extending up Old Route 66 to the Elkhart mine and to Illiopolis plant sites for Formosa and Monsanto. "We're already there, so it's nothing to add them," Mahler said.

It would take 15 acres, which is less than one-sixteenth square mile, to put the grain elevator in the enterprise zone.

The enterprise zone has over 4 square miles, or 2,500 acres, left


While the remaining enterprise zone territory has shrunk due to many additions in the last few years, Mahler said that should not be a concern. There are also plenty of areas that could be recalled if needed. He pointed out that when the coal mine finishes building its shaft, that territory could be recovered. There is an area to the north of Lincoln that has been designated for marketing purposes, from Eaton Corp. eastward along Lincoln Parkway, and 3 square miles could be reverted from that. Also, it is not looking like the Formosa plant will rebuild, and that area could be reclaimed.

Voting yes to add Elkhart Grain Co. to the enterprise zone were Derrick Crane, Dave Evans, Bill Glaze, Judi Graff, Dave Hepler, Gerald Lolling, Bill Martin and Dean Sasse.

Voting no was Dave Armbrust


Sugar Creek Wind Farm

Mahler introduced representatives who have been making plans for a wind farm that could go up west of Lincoln in the near future. Stan Komperda serves as the project development manger and Arne Henn as engineer for Sugar Creek Wind One, LLC, to be commonly known as Sugar Creek Wind Farm.

This was the first public announcement of the project. Komperda said that they were there to introduce the project but were not asking for anything yet. The company has been "fleshing out" details for about a year. They are just coming out of their feasibility study period. They would return at a later time to request permits to build the wind farm. They would also be asking for enterprise zone designation.

The company is nearing completion of design and environmental impact studies. They've been negotiating with landowners and found that about 80 percent of the farmers are interested.

Komperda was pleased to say that their plans even exceed some of the more significant local requirements. In particular, rather than 500-foot setbacks from primary structures, such as homes, the company has designed their layout of turbines to allow 1,500-foot setbacks.

The company is waiting for some study results still to come in, and that could affect exact locations of certain turbines, Komperda said. The wetlands impact study is one of significance in the proposed area.

The wind farm would be spread out over a 16,000-acre area bordered by Route 10 to the north, the Mason County line to the west, the quarry road to the east and just north of Salt Creek.

The Plains states have wind but not the infrastructure to carry power production. Illinois has the three primary considerations for wind power: a solid, developable wind resource, with 7- to 10-meter-per-second winds needed; high-demand electrical centers, such as Chicago; and high-voltage transmission lines.

"Sugar Creek's kind of a sweet spot electrically," Komperda said. It has two separate 138-kilovolt power lines that transect the proposed field. These are lines that overlap but do not connect. So power can be sent to either line. Additionally, Komperda was excited to say that $11 billion being made available in federal stimulus funds includes grid and substation upgrades and building larger pipelines throughout the country.

The current project encompasses 25 square miles gross area. The actual wind development area involves 16 square miles; less than 2 percent of this amount would be involved in turbine locations. The average turbine placement takes one-fourth to one-half acre out of production.

The current plan is to have 108 turbines that could produce two megawatts each, for a total of over 200 megawatts of power from that farm.

The Logan County ordinance allows 500-foot height. The company may be asking for a variance that would exceed this and go to 600 feet. The reason to do this is that as you go higher, winds increase, Komperda said. Larger equipment would be used, with an increased production of three megawatts, which would mean more revenues for everyone.

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The project area is located in Sheridan and Corwin townships in western Logan County and bounded by Illinois Route 10 to the north and County Road 1400N to the south.

Turbines would be located 1.1 times the distance of the turbine height, or 600 feet away from infrastructure: roads, transmission lines, pipelines, etc. The design also staggers locations 1,400 feet by 1,800 feet for visual and sound benefits to residents and more efficient capturing of the wind.

The turbines are taxed locally on the amount of electricity produced.

Using the lesser figure of 200-megawatt production, Mahler said that the county would see an estimated $1.9 million per year in property tax. Lincoln Community High School, New Holland-Middletown and West Lincoln schools would benefit. This would be closer to $3 million if larger equipment would be used and if a 300-megawatt farm could be built.

The wind farm representatives said that they hope this is just phase one of the wind farm and that there would be additional wind farms built after this one.

Enough of the following checklists have been completed during the yearlong feasibility study to begin to move forward. Below are just some of the processes that take place, including some of the governmental requirements before a wind farm is approved.

Project permitting checklist

  • Coordination with local, state and federal authorities

  • Coordination of zoning-related issues with project planning

  • Project-related land use and construction plans

  • Permit planning according to applicable state and local laws

  • Coordination with outside special permitting staff (NTIA, radio-frequency communications, FAA)

  • Storm water and erosion control

  • Landscape conservation support plan

  • Encroachment and indemnification planning measures

  • Land use assessment

  • Avian, bat and fauna surveys

  • Geotechnical soil evaluation

  • Land surveying

Noise and shadow assessment

  • Screening and modeling; comparison with regulatory limits

  • Noise control study

  • Noise level measurements

  • Shadow flicker analysis and modeling

  • Landscape visual impact analysis

Project list

  • Construction process and assistance in awarding of contracts

  • Foundation construction

  • Power lines to grid input point

  • Infrastructure (road construction, crane location, etc.)

  • Compensatory measures

  • Construction supervision

  • Construction scheduling

  • Coordination of involved parties

  • Supervision of project implementation

Sugar Creek Wind Farm is a joint project between American Wind Energy Management Corp. and Oak Creek Energy Systems. AWEM is a subsidiary of Euro Wind Energy Management, based in Hamburg, Germany. Oak Creek Energy Systems is a California company.

Euro Wind Energy Management developed over 400 megawatts of projects in Germany. The projects there have remained small because of space limitations and high population density.

The U.S. has lots of room to grow, Komperda said. Oak Creek has signed to provide 2,400 megawatts in California and has projects in the planning stages in other areas of the U.S. that would supply another 2,000 megawatts from wind power.

While Texas and Colorado are current top providers, Illinois is quickly gaining ground, with 44 wind farm projects under way. Komperda expects the state to vie for second or third place in wind power production within the next five years.

At present Illinois production is at 915 megawatts per year, but this does not include the Railsplitter Wind Farm production, which would add another 100 megawatts to that figure. Komperda expects Illinois production to reach 7,000 megawatts in the next 10 years.



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