Testimony Begins on Another Proposed Wind Farm

 Hearings on the proposed Bright Stalk Wind Farm will continue February 20 at 6:00 pm at the Government Center, Room 400, Bloomington. (Image Credit: Breanna Grow)

Hearings on the proposed Bright Stalk Wind Farm will continue February 20 at 6:00 pm at the Government Center, Room 400, Bloomington. (Image Credit: Breanna Grow)

The McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) heard testimony from both wind energy experts and the public on Thursday regarding the proposed Bright Stalk wind farm in rural McLean County. 

The Bright Stalk Wind Farm, proposed by EDP Renewables, would include up to 58 turbines across nearly 5,000 acres of privately-owned land near Chenoa. On January 31, the ZBA recommended approval of Invenergy's special use permit for a separate wind farm also near Chenoa. 

Bright Stalk Project Manager Katie Chapman presented the proposed plan, which would include turbines ranging from 3.45 MW (megawatts) to 3.6MW. The larger turbines proposed in this project will allow for a smaller footprint with the same energy production. (Wind turbines are typically 2MW.)

“A big part of our business is in the Midwest, including Illinois,” Chapman said. “This is really where our experience is concentrated.” 

Following local ordinances, the plan states no turbines fall within 2,000 feet of a Residential-1 or Residential-2 district and no turbines are within 1.5 miles of an incorporated township limit.

The estimated economic impact to McLean County would be $2.5 million in property taxes in the first year of operation and $42.7 million over 20 years. The project will create a total of 300 seasonal jobs during construction and up to 13 local permanent positions. A decommissioning plan with cost evaluation was also presented by EDP.

Phillip Luetkehans, an associate with Schirott, Luetkehans & Garner, discussed the merits of the economic impact study and whether the results could be validated. Additionally, Luetkehans asked about waiver agreements EDP has made previously with non-participating residents and the location of turbines.

“It’s too close to a creek,” Daryl Haney, local Chenoa resident, said regarding a turbine in the proposed layout. “Nobody ever came to us and said a word about this until I saw it on a map in the Pantagraph.”

Shant Dokouzian, a senior project manager and principal engineer with DNV GL, testified as a sound and shadow flicker expert for the project. His company was consulted to ensure EDP met all the state and local standards for the application.

Dokouzian’s model predicted the turbines would meet all of the Illinois Pollution Control Board’s noise regulations, and residents near the turbines would hear noise near 40 decibels on average. Dokouzian explained this is equivalent to the sound of quiet dishwasher. Illinois does not have any regulations on shadow flicker, but Dokouzian and his team used a baseline of 30 hours of shadow flicker per year. The model utilized conservative parameters and found the annual average of shadow flicker for residents near the wind farm would be 35 hours. 

Several residents expressed concerns with the concept of shadow flicker, including Jeff Powell, a local resident whose property lies within the wind farm’s boundaries. Powell shared his concerns about driving to work in the morning with turbine shadow flicker on the road.

What’s Next? 

The hearing will continue February 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the Government Center, Room 400 in Bloomington. The board will discuss the Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement and hear from EDP experts on wildlife and environmental impacts.