Relight is a wind farm corporation with headquarters in Italy.
Relight U.S., the subsidiary working on this project, is wholly
owned by Relight.
The wind farm would be located south and west of Mount Pulaski, with
towers stretching into Elkhart and Broadwell. The wind farm would
consist of 81 wind turbines, collector lines, sub-stations,
transmissions lines, access roads, meteorological towers and related
appurtenances. A new substation would need to be built in Mount
Pulaski on 400th Street as part of the project. In total, the
project would encompass 8,100 acres across the county.
Originally, the plan called for 140 turbines. Now the plan is down
to 81 turbines. The towers will be 98 meters high, or a little over
300 feet. With the blades attached, the tip of the blade would reach
491 feet high.
The number of turbines was reduced over time due to the need to work
around areas where landowners did not want a turbine built, or it
could not meet construction requirements. One of these requirements
is that a tower has to be built 600 feet away from a road and 1,000
feet from any residence.
Prior to the ZBA hearing, the Lincoln/Logan County Regional Planning
Commission approved of the proposal, and recommends to the ZBA that
they approve of it as well.
Robert Paladino was present at the hearing on behalf of Relight.
Relight is based in Italy, and they are the developers behind the
Meridien Wind Farm. The project has been in development for about
five years, according to Paladino. This would be the first wind
project built by Relight in the United States, and there are plans
in the works for Mason County as well.
According to Paladino’s presentation, a feasibility study was
conducted between June of 2009 and May of 2010. Environmental
studies were done between June of 2010 and July of 2011. Land
acquisition began in June of 2010 and October of this year.
Currently, the project is in the authorization and permitting phase.
Relight hopes to begin construction in the second quarter of 2015.
Paladino said that one of the concerns they wanted to address at the
hearing was the “quarter-mile bubble” that adds to the affected land
area. This means that Relight is trying to reach out to those people
who may not have a tower on their land, but will still be
potentially affected by the wind farm. This area in total would
measure at 16,300 acres (including the aforementioned 8,100 acres).
Paladino said they estimate about 150 people who needed to contacted
about the bubble.
Several people asked during the hearing why they had not been
contacted before receiving a certified letter in the mail about the
hearing. Chairman Doug Thompson said that is one of the reasons why
the ZBA holds hearings, which is to inform people who may not
already know what zoning matters are being discussed.
According to the presentation, wind energy is the transformation of
kinetic force into mechanical power. Due to technological advances,
wind power is the fastest growing alternative energy source. Wind
power is also pollution free and flexible enough to be used to power
both residential needs and the needs of cities.
Paladino also said that Meridien will receive a federal tax credit
for their operation if they are up and running by December of 2015.
The tax credit will only apply to those towers that are completed by
that deadline. Paladino also said there is a chance that the Federal
government will extend that deadline, but it is still unknown as to
whether or not they will.
“Often times, those tax credits can amount to as much as forty
percent of the revenue,” said Paladino.
Paladino said the area was selected because of the wind conditions
in this part of the state.
“This will produce 760 million kilo-watt hours a year. This is the
equivalent of 70,000 households,” said Paladino. Paladino explained
that the nacelle that gathers the power generated by the turbine
will generate over 4,000 volts. This voltage will then be
transferred to the base of the transformer at the bottom of the
tower, where it is pushed to 34,000 volts. Finally, all of the tower
voltage is transferred to the substation and pushed to 345,000
volts, and it will be connected to the power grid in that spot.
“Noise is a key issue within the project area,” said Paladino.
Paladino said that the company will use noise reduction technology
to help ensure noise problems are kept to a minimum. Rob O’Neill, a
sound engineer with Epsilon Associates, helped to explain how the
noise will be reduced via software built into the towers.
O’Neill said that the wind farm has to comply with local and state
level sound emission regulations. Studies were done on the machinery
that would be part of the towers. The findings for these studies
indicated that the towers would fall under the recommended decibel
levels during both the day and the night. However, some of the
towers would be fitted with software to adjust the blade angles as
the wind increases, which will decrease noise levels.
Doug Thompson asked which turbines will need to be programmed with
the extra software. O’Neill said he could not provide the specifics
on location, but their model for study was run on a worst-case
When asked by several people in attendance how the study model was
run, O'Neill answered, “We modeled every wind turbine running
simultaneously with every residence in the area." This means they
measured what the sound level would be at every residence within
Multiple people asked how loud the towers would be, and if they
could be heard from a thousand feet away. O’Neill said the noise
generated by the turbines would still be heard, and would register
at a level lower than a normal speaking voice. Several guests also
asked if monitoring of the noise levels will continue after
construction. Paladino said they will continue to monitor the
turbines that need software for noise reduction.
Corey Leonard asked about whom to address if they have a complaint
about noise after the towers are built. Paladino said a plant
manager will be hired after the project is finished. Said manager
will live in the area, and Paladino added that he could be contacted
with complaints as well.
Noise complaints are also handled by the Illinois Pollution Control
Leonard asked if the ZBA had contacted the Control Board. Thompson
said they have not, as it has not seemed necessary so far.
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Another issue that has come up is need for aviation lighting.
Paladino said that right now, the plan is for 61 of the turbines
to be fitted with FAA-provided aviation lights, but there could
Another issue is the potential impact on wildlife and
wetlands nearby. According to studies done in 2010 and 2011 that
have been reviewed by wildlife service agencies, there should not be
any threat to endangered species or the wetlands.
According to guidelines from the American Wind Association, wind
towers are built at a minimum of one thousand feet from residences.
Paladino said they will be using a wind turbine construction company
called Mortinson to construct the wind farm. Mortinson has
constructed over eleven hundred wind turbines in the United States.
The towers themselves would be supplied by General Electric, who has
over 22,000 towers worldwide.
Paladino reiterated multiple times that the drainage tile in the
area was brought up as a concern. As a result, they will conduct
studies to find these areas and make repairs as necessary.
“If we break it, we’ll fix it. And if it’s broken, we’ll probably
fix it. If we find it broken, we’ll fix it,” said Paladino. Multiple
people asked what method would be used to fix any drainage tiles.
Paladino said he was not sure of the exact method. Paladino did add
that Relight will fix drainage tiles for anyone affected by the
construction, even if they have not signed a lease. Paladino also
said they will hire locally for said positions. One audience member
asked about wells, and Paladino said they will fix wells, too.
“We’ll be applying some very aggressive construction,” said Paladino.
“This is an intrusive project, there’s no avoiding it.”
Paladino said he has also met with engineers in Broadwell, Elkhart
and Mount Pulaski. Paladino said Relight is willing to provide the
funding to assist the three townships to review the engineering
plans, and to allow them to hire a construction superintendent to
Paladino also said that some of the roads in the area will be paved
by Relight as part of the construction process in order to
facilitate faster transportation of parts.
Should construction begin on schedule, area leveling would begin in
April of 2015. Turbines would start to arrive in July, electrical
infrastructure would be constructed starting in June, and operation
would begin in December. According to the presentation, no hazardous
waste would be used, and construction waste would be disposed of by
Brett Farmer asked about a decommissioning plan.
Paladino said there is a requirement for deconstruction to be kept
in place in case the business goes under. Paladino also said that
such a decision will likely not happen for twenty years, and the
towers may still be used in an upgraded manner at that time.
Judy Graff asked about any potential issues with aerial application
of pesticides on crops. Paladino said there has been one landowner
that has come forward with the same concern. Paladino said they are
looking into accommodations for such an issue, which would involve
turning down the turbine speed during said applications.
Multiple audience members claimed that Relight was inept, citing a
lack of communication and late payments for leases that were signed
when land acquisition began. Paladino apologized for past mistakes
on Relight’s part, and said that Relight has had trouble in locating
the correct landowners in the area.
“You’re not the easiest people to narrow down,” said Paladino, and
added that land parcels in the area are not easily defined, nor are
they always listed as being under the correct names.
Leslie Hilt, the highway commissioner for Mount Pulaski, said that
the noise will not affect him, as he is not part of the project
area. However, Hilt said he is worried about the farmers in the area
who will have to deal with trenching during the crop-planting
season. Paladino said that Relight will be working with each farmer
individually to ensure that minimal interruption is made to planting
The number of turbines was also reduced to provide what Paladino
referred to as a “minimal impact” on the scenic nature of the area.
Several people in the audience disagreed, with some saying they do
not want to look out their window only to see wind turbines.
Several people asked how their property values would be affected,
with some citing studies done in other areas with wind farms that
state such values will decrease. One audience member asked if there
is anything Relight will do if property values go down. Paladino
said there is no legal obligation for Relight to do anything in such
In total, this is almost a $400 million project for Relight. “All of
the financing for this is American,” said Paladino.
The primary revenue for the county would come in the form of
one-time building fees.
The wind farm would also be susceptible to property taxes the same
as any other property, and taxes would be distributed in the same
manner, of which the county sees a portion, schools and townships
and other taxing bodies that are within a jurisdiction of each given
turbine site. By ordinance, the county assessment for wind turbines
for commercial production is set by mega-watt. The property taxes
for Meridien Wind Farm are currently being estimated to amount to
$370,000 a year.
Due to time constraints, the ZBA adjourned the hearing. A second
hearing will be held on Thursday, December 4th at 7:30 in the same
location, the Mount Pulaski Church Fellowship Center.
Members of the ZBA present were Doug Thompson, chairman; Dean Toohey;
Rick Sheley; Judy Graff and Brett Farmer. Logan County Zoning
Officer Will D'Andrea was also present.