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McLean County seeks money owed from decommissioning wind farms

Illinois State University

Two wind energy companies have failed to set up agreements with McLean County government to set aside money to protect nearby landowners for wind farm decommissioning, according to County Board Chair John McIntyre.

McIntyre announced during Thursday’s monthly county board meeting the states attorney’s office is making “considerable progress” in talks with EDP Renewables and Invenergy to establish escrow accounts.

Houston-based EDP started the High Trail Wind Farm and Old Trail Wind Farm, both near Ellsworth, in 2007, along with the more recent Bright Stalk Wind Farm near Chenoa. Chicago-based Invenergy built the White Oak Wind Farm near Carlock which went online in 2011. Invenergy sold that wind farm to White Oak Wind Energy. Invenergy also operates the Blooming Grove Wind Farm in northeast McLean County that started producing energy in 2021, and the company is building the Sapphire Sky Wind Farm near Bellflower.

County administrator Cassy Taylor said county staff is working with Invenergy on a decommissioning agreement that is not overdue.

McIntyre said the county’s special use permits for the projects require the wind farm companies pay $25,000 per wind tower into an escrow fund to cover any additional costs associated with site restoration once the wind turbines are no longer in use.

County officials did not say how much money the companies owed the county. The funds were to be established after 12 years in operation.

“McLean County has always been known for honorably fulfilling our end of the contract and we expect all other companies to do likewise,” McIntyre told the board, adding if there’s no resolution by March 16, he will bring the matter back to the board to take action.

“It’s time. Enough is enough. We need to get this done,” McIntyre said.

Representatives for EDP and Invenergy were not immediately available for comment.

In other business, the county board:

  • Approved a preliminary plan by Tom Kirk from Henson Disposal for the HDI subdivision on 44 acres at 2148 Tri Lakes Road in Bloomington Township. Kirk plans to seek permitting for a municipal waste transfer station on the property that already processes construction, demolition and green waste. Kirk said the project is estimated to cost nearly $5 million, adding the station likely will help bring down municipal waste costs for municipalities by offering competition.
  • OK'd a $2.8 million bid from Stark Excavating for the Hoffman Bridge project on Colfax Road (CH 13).
  • Approved a $1.5 million contract with Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services. That marks a 17% increase over the county’s current insurance plan. County staff attribute the increase to less competition in the insurance market, along with inflationary pressures.
  • Adopted an agreement for the McLean County Sheriff’s Office to provide police patrols in the city of Lexington through the end of the year. According to county staff, the Lexington Police Department is reorganizing and needs up to 40 hours of additional coverage. Lexington will pay $85 per hour for deputy patrols.
  • Approved a resolution of congratulations for longtime labor and Democratic Party leader John Penn on his retirement. County Board members gave Penn a standing ovation.

Corrected: February 22, 2023 at 9:01 AM CST
WGLT initially reported a county agreement with Invenergy was overdue. County administration later indicated Invenergy was not overdue in establishing a decommissioning agreement.
Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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