WIND POWER BLOCKED – FOR NOW
SYCAMORE – EDF Renewables reprensentatives said the new DeKalb County wind energy ordinance is “unworkable” by design, and the company is pulling its plans to develop wind projects under these circumstances.
Shanelle Montana, project development director for EDF Renewables, said the wind energy development company is looking at options following the county’s ordinance passage during its Nov. 21 board meeting and will get a feel for what the incoming new county board thinks about wind energy.
Right now, she said, she doesn’t feel like the current ordinance is something the company can develop any projects under, and there are no immediate plans for development anytime soon.
“We really feel like it was an attack on the wind development industry in general,” Montana said.
Despite what county officials have said they wanted to do in the past few months, Montana said, she didn’t think the ordinance is fair at all, and that it sends a clear message to wind developers that DeKalb County wants nothing to do with wind. She said many subjects related to the ordinance, like shadow flicker and noise level recommendations, were put to rest through the county’s hearing officer’s recommendations, let alone through government and independent research.
“And yet, the board still went in that direction to overrule the hearing officer,” Montana said.
The wind energy company reaction comes after the DeKalb County Board voted, 19-3, to pass the wind ordinance for the county during their meeting last week at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. The move follows at least eight months of discussion about the ordinance with county board members that serve in the county’s planning and zoning committee.
Hearing officer Dale Clark had said in his recommendation that a zero-effect shadow flicker rule would be unreasonable to mandate for wind energy developers, since the county has not required the same standards for other agricultural businesses. Clark also had said the originally proposed sound limitations were extreme and don’t take into account ordinary night sounds including trains, traffic or ordinary wind noise. He said he recommended adding Illinois Pollution Control Board standards for both points within the ordinance, which EDF officials were in favor of.
Montana said the ordinance is unprecedented in the sense that the county board put the hearing officer’s recommendations aside when they voted on the final ordinance, saying it’s very rare for that to happen with any county wind ordinance.
“I think the idea that this is fair and balanced was a misnomer,” Montana said.
Lisa Bergeron, a member of the Concerned Citizens for DeKalb County group that was in favor of the planning and zoning committee’s original ordinance, said she was very happy with the county board’s vote. She said it wasn’t all that she and other Concerned Citizens members wanted, especially when it comes to residential setbacks, but she felt there was enough compromise with noise and shadow flicker regulations.
“I think it speaks clearly that the county board was in unison on this,” Bergeron said.
Even after the final vote, Bergeron said, talks about the wind ordinance are not over, since the ordinance can always be tweaked and wind developers could work around current regulations. She said she urges residents to always be aware of what’s going on and to actively participate in the public hearing process.
Montana said more than a couple dozen residents would have been participants in future development projects, with another 30 interested in participating pending the county decision. She said it’s unfortunate that residents that wanted more economic development, tax base, industry and jobs will not get it with the ordinance that passed.
“So we’re very disappointed about that, and very disappointed that DeKalb County has said they’re not open for business,” Montana said.