ZBA chairman Doug Thompson said the wind farm was seeking
modifications to the original permit "to allow the construction and
operation of a wind energy conversion system."
Over 70 people came to hear about the proposed amendments and
updated plans for the construction.
Guests representing the wind farm project were Stan Komperda and
Chris Nickell from the American Wind Energy Management Corporation,
Scott Koziar and Dave Wagner from Apex Clean Energy, and Kyle Barry,
an attorney with Husch Blackwell.
Updates on project and studies
Kyle Barry said the original permit was approved in June 2011
subject to certain conditions. He said though the permit is still
active, amendments are needed due to changes in the wind industry, a
purchase by a new owner, and improved technology in wind turbines
allowing for fewer turbines.
Barry said the energy produced would remain the same. He said with
fewer turbines needed and a new layout, a new noise study has also
been done. Apex has also signed an Agricultural Impact Mitigation
Agreement with standards similar to wind farm ordinances.
Scott Koziar is the Senior Director of Project Development for Apex
Clean Energy. He said Apex is a developer, constructor, owner, and
operator of wind farms across the nation and have developed three
billion dollars worth of wind farm projects. They have installed
more megawatts than any other developer and worked with many large
Koziar said Apex aims to develop relationships with communities.
Apex wants to be "good neighbors" and "listen to feedback from the
board and the public and incorporate those into the project." Koziar
said they will conduct on-site operations with a fully staffed
maintenance center to "control and monitor wind turbines for
efficiency and safety issues."
Stan Komperda is American Wind Energy's Director of Development. He
said abundant grid access and high demand for energy make Illinois a
good wind resource.
Komperda said the project location is five miles west of Lincoln and
is bound by Route 10 between New Holland and the Mason County line,
and includes an area just north of Salt Creek and the Rocky Ford
quarry road. He said power lines that "crisscross" the project are
of electrical interest. A new switchyard has already been
constructed by Fogerty Grain Elevator.
Komperda said the project's "footprint" represents 16,000 acres with
11,500 acres assigned to the project. He said with new turbine
models, 40 fewer machines will be needed, which will speed along
construction and minimize impacts to fields and roads. Construction
should begin in spring 2017 and will take approximately nine months.
Komperda said the setbacks of 1,225 feet are nearly 20 percent more
than what is required by the ordinance. The setback is also required
to be 1.1 times the turbine height from utilities, roads, high
voltage lines, gas pipelines, and property lines of
non-participating landowners. Komperda said since they are
considering using 492 foot tall turbines, it would require a setback
of 541 feet.
Barry called experts to share updates on environmental and wildlife
impact, noise studies, and a real estate impact study.
David Phillips, Director of Wildlife and Environmental Permitting
for Apex, oversees regulatory compliances related to wind projects.
Phillips said ecological studies show the site is low risk. The U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Services and Illinois Department of Natural
Resources have approved the project as long as it complies with
Eddie Duncan, Director of Acoustics for Resource Systems Group
Incorporated, has evaluated noise levels for other wind energy
projects and did a noise study on the project. Duncan said sound
levels are regulated and cannot cause an "exceedance of sound levels
to residential lands." He said his research has shown most wind
farms do not exceed noise levels.
Duncan said his noise study showed sound levels from the project
would comply with Illinois Pollution Control Board standards. Duncan
used a model of a layout similar to the previous study to measure
sound levels and said no residences within the project area exceed
the limits even when he looked at high frequency sounds.
Peter Poletti works for Poletti and Associates Incorporated, a real
estate appraisal consulting firm. He performed a real estate impact
study for the wind farm in 2011 and found no measurable difference
for prices in houses located near wind turbines. Poletti said he has
driven through this area in the last five years and feels the new
layout is not likely to change impacts or affect property sales.
Questions from ZBA members
Various members of the ZBA then had more questions for the wind farm
ZBA member Cheryl Baker asked about base sizes for larger towers.
Komperda said what is above ground would be about a 12 foot diameter
steel shaft on a concrete base. The bases are similar to those used
in the Railsplitter Wind Farm project.
ZBA chairman Doug Thompson asked Komperda about why the previous
1,500 foot setback has been changed to 1,225 feet and setbacks for
crossing power lines, roads, or non-participating properties have
also been moved.
Komperda said with a reduced number of machines, the spacing of
machines is larger and the 1,225 is just a minimum setback. With the
larger machines, Apex will not build on land exceeding setbacks. He
said they eliminated locations where setbacks would cross power
Judi Graff asked about the turbine size increase and impact on road
Komperda said a few roads may need a corridor put in to handle turn
arounds, but noted the rotor size diameter is what is increased.
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ZBA member Scott Noltensmeier asked how they would dig transmission
lines and what happens if they do not realize a (farm drainage) tile
is there or miss a tile.
Koziar said an auger machine does an open cut. If they feel a tile,
it must be documented. Apex must repair tiles and address drainage
Barry said the Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement addresses
tile issues and asks for surveys of tile systems. Koziar said they
would ask homeowners for maps.
Thompson asked Poletti if a study had been done on sales of homes
Poletti said no, but he has found in other areas with wind farms,
property values have not been affected considerably. He said a house
built after Mendota did a wind farm project sold for a price similar
to other houses in area.
Noltensmeier asked if homeowners originally enrolled in the project
would still receive payments even if they were not "hosting" a
Komperda said they would still get land payments, but not turbine
Thompson asked for public comments and several people addresses
concerns about the project with some of those mentioning noise
Guy Podelsbek of New Holland said he is concerned about noise levels
and asked the ZBA to look thoroughly at the levels and reconsider
their negative effects.
Steven Goodman of Lincoln said he is concerned about noise levels
and decreased setbacks and distances to gas lines. He also asked
about road studies.
Komperda said the Panhandle Company will help survey and locate
pipelines and road studies will be done during construction.
Donna Bishop lives near Atlanta, where another wind farm project is
being considered. She feels wind farms can have negative impacts on
health and agriculture. Bishop said property devaluation was another
Three men from the Vermillion County area spoke against the project,
warning everyone about negative impacts they have observed from the
wind farm in their area.
Ted Hartke said noise levels of the turbines cause sleep problems
for his family and caused them to abandon their homes. He believes
turbines exceed noise levels even though studies show otherwise.
Vince Koers said school children in the county experienced sleep
deprivation. He said wind farm manuals show turbines should be 1600
feet upwind and feels the ZBA should look at manuals for the
machines to make sure Apex's standards fit.
Lynn McLendon of Danville said he is concerned about impacts to
citizens and lower property values. He felt the ZBA should revisit
some of the terms.
Barry said he objected to what the visitors said since they do not
live in the area and are not experts.
Lyle Read of Lincoln said it would have been nice to have handouts
of what was presented to better understand the information. Read
would like a little more information. He asked everyone to remember
the (public) hearing (they were now in) is not a trial.
ZBA approves amendments with a few conditions
After a short break to allow ZBA members to discuss the issues among
themselves, Rick Sheley motioned to approve the amendments to the
Doug Thompson said they wanted to add a few new conditions:
- Revised plans to show compliance to the setbacks based on
turbine size and height.
- Revised plans to remove collector lines and connecting
junction boxes outside of the originally approved project
- Revised plans to show how all towers are able to connect.
- Receive FAA approvals determining there would be no hazards
to air navigation.
- Submission of interference studies to insurances.
The motion to approve the amendments passed 5-2 with Cheryl
Baker, Judy Graff, Brett Farmer, Rick Sheley, and Doug Thompson
voting, "yes." Derek Martin and Scott Noltensmeier voted, "no."
The matter will go before the Logan County Board next. The board
meets in Workshop on Thursday, Sept. 15 and votes in Regular
session on Tuesday, Sept. 20.