Residents Testify in Emotional Wind Farm Hearing

 Jim Pitzer of Colfax describes the property that's been in his family over 130 years, where Invenergy plans to build two turbines nearby. (Credit: Breanna Grow)

Jim Pitzer of Colfax describes the property that's been in his family over 130 years, where Invenergy plans to build two turbines nearby. (Credit: Breanna Grow)

Emotions ran high Wednesday night as the public testified before the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals on how, for better or worse, the proposed Invenergy wind farm in rural McLean County would change their lives.

Rural residents and members of the Laborers Local 362 found themselves on opposite sides of the issue of wind energy in McLean County.

Local 362 members voiced support for the project as a boost for the local economy.

Union Member Eric Penn of Bloomington said work on the Twin Groves and White Oak wind projects totaled 140,000 hours and close to $4M in gross wages for the Local 362.

”When you make that kind of money, you spend it in your community,” Penn said.

Member Michael Matejka of Normal said Invenergy’s proposed $300M investment in the County is “a significant number we have to take seriously.”

However, residents living near the proposed Invenergy wind turbines say the investment will come at a cost.

“These gentlemen won’t be living with (the wind farm) for the next 30 years,” said Julie Cotter, who owns land in Lexington near the project site. Cotter said her husband worked on a wind project in Odell. “We made very good money on that project--however, that project is up there, and those people are living with it still. We’re long gone.”

Amy Winterland of Colfax farms corn and soybeans with her husband. Invenergy listed Winterland’s home among the highest predicted noise levels at nonparticipating residences, at 47 decibels.

“I personally do not know what 47 decibels sounds like,” Winterland said, concerned the noise could be difficult to live with once the turbines are built.

After hearing Lexington resident Barb Metz’s tearful testimony on the proposed turbines sited near her five-acre property, Local 362 member Ronnie Paul said, “I can understand and appreciate where she’s coming from. I’m not up here to tell you I’m right and these people are wrong.” Paul testified in support of the additional funding the Invenergy project could bring to rural schools.

The hearing will resume on 6:00 p.m. on January 29 in the Government Center, Room 400, Bloomington.