Illinois has seen a flurry of activity at the county level regarding how to best balance the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy development in the state with the concerns of local landowners. In addressing this issue, Bureau County and Iroquois County have recently decided upon dramatically different approaches, and the resulting economic impacts should provide an interesting comparison point for future legislative and permitting efforts within the state.
On the pro-development side, Donna Barker of the Bureau County Republican has reported that the County Board of Bureau County recently voted to not only extend the conditional use permits that had been previously awarded to Midwest Wind for the company’s planned 150-MW Big Sky project, but also went a step further and rejected a proposal to institute a wind moratorium in the county. With moratoriums becoming a more common trend across the nation, it is refreshing to see a county take it upon itself to gain the necessary expertise within a time frame that won’t delay development of actual renewable projects.
On the anti-development side, Kevin Borgia of the Illinois Wind Daily recently reported that the County Board of Iroquois County recently approved a remarkable 2000-foot setback from non-participating property lines. This would be among the most restrictive county setback requirements in the nation, and could have a significant negative impact on renewable energy investments in the county.
I’ve previously discussed the dramatic impact that local activism and permitting obstacles can have on the development of renewable projects, and I must admit that I’m very curious as to whether the amount of renewable energy investments that these two counties are able to generate support that conclusion.
I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on the status of these counties’ efforts going-forward, but in the meantime, I’d love to see whether you have run across any anecdotal evidence of the impact of local NIMBY activism or highly-restrictive permitting processes on renewable project development. Feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your experiences.