McLean County Board approves wind farm in 16-3 vote

McLean County Board
The McLean County Board voted and approved for a wind farm to be placed in the county, even though a number of rural residents protested. (WJBC File Photo)

By Patrick Baron

BLOOMINGTON – Despite a number of rural McLean County residents’ protests, the County Board voted 16-3 to approve a wind farm from EDP Renewables to be located in the northeast part of the county.

Residents filled the meeting room, with a majority of them appearing to voice their concerns about the wind farm. In her second appearance before the board, Kim Brucker said it felt as if their cries fell on deaf ears.

“It feels like many members have walked into this room, looked at us and said ‘we no longer care what happens to you, we’re going to favor these outsiders that have come offering money’,” Brucker explained.

Tim Jolly, a lifelong McLean County resident, said the turbines won’t be efficient enough to warrant support.

“How can something that operates at 30-34 percent efficiency seem like a good idea?” Jolly asked.

Amy Winterland recalled experts that were brought before the Zoning Board of Appeals to provide information on the negative effects of the wind farm. She said their testimonies were tossed aside.

“We have tried as residents. We have brought in experts, they were severely dismissed. We have tried,” Winterland said.

The wind farm proposal passed after board member Jacob Beard introduced an amendment that was included in the final motion. Beard said the amendment provides additional safeguards for some residents and the environment in the areas where the wind turbines will be placed.

“The amendment provides additional protections for non-participating residents and for the Mackinaw River Valley area just to ensure that state requirements are being met on sound and on the environmental side of Mackinaw,” Bear explained.

Beard added while the amendment doesn’t change where the turbines will be located, it ensures that state laws and regulations are being met. If they are not, changes will be made to the turbines. Beard noted the additional safeguards remain in-line with the Zoning Board of Appeal’s recommendation to pass the original proposal.

Patrick Baron can be reached at patrick.baron@cumulus.com.

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