Pike County Board approves multi-million dollar wind turbine project

By Blake Schnitker on July 26 at 6:00am

More than two dozen wind turbines could soon be seen stretching across the Pike County bluffs.

At a meeting last night, Pike County Board members approved the plan for the installation of 25 wind turbines on land just west of Pittsfield.

Chairman of the Pike County Board Andy Borrowman says the vote to approve the plan passed by a narrow margin, and explains how the project will now move forward.

“It’s a wind turbine project that will go on the west side of Pittsfield, it’s projected twenty-five 50 megawatt wind turbines. I believe the Illinois Winds LLC has agreements with the property owners contingent upon them getting a building permit. The resolution last night passed on a vote of 4-3, so (Illinois Winds LLC) will be moving forward, and I believe that they would plan on doing that really soon,” says Borrowman.

Borrowman says the advantages of the plan for Pike County might not be immediately visible, but he does expect there to be an impact.

“The benefits to Pike County may not be seen real soon as far as real estate tax. They will possibly be in an enterprise zone that will give them a ten-year abatement. But they’re saying that the majority of the materials will be purchased, as much as possible, from the locals. There will be some construction jobs available right away, there will be two or three maintenance personnel needed once the project is complete, so there will be an impact upon construction,” Borrowman explains.

As for the company that will take care of the installation and overall project, Borrowman says the county has no say in that matter. However, according to Borrowman, Illinois Winds LLC is overseeing the plan and is likely close to naming a contractor to take care of the project.

Borrowman says he believes Illinois Winds wants to move ahead with the project once everything is in place.

“(Illinois Winds LLC) is wanting to start construction as soon as they get everything in place as far as the permit. The resolution passed (Monday) night would allow them to move forward with the permit. I believe our Zoning Administrator probably has most of the paperwork ready to go and then as far as I know they will name their contractor and probably start right away. As far as the timeline for wind turbines to be in service, I think you’re probably looking at a couple years. It may be sooner than that to get one (turbine) started, but there’s going to be a lot of work to be done,” says Borrowman.

Preliminary estimates for the cost of the project are in the range of $70 million. The early goal is for the wind turbines to be constructed and operational by 2019.