WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Another Wind Farm Possible in Western Illinois

Aug 21, 2020

Another company is interested in building a wind farm in western Illinois. Germany-based RWE Renewables hopes to place 48 to 66 turbines in southeast McDonough County.

TSPR asked RWE Wind Development Manager Oliver Ellen why the company is interested in McDonough County. He replied that when choosing a site for a wind farm, the company looks for three key things:

  • Adequate wind speeds
  • Nearby transmission lines
  • Landowner interest

“Those are really the things that drew us to this area. Obviously there’s a lot of work to do before we ever get to construction. But we’re going to do our due diligence before that,” Ellen said.

He also pointed out there is precedence for a wind farm in McDonough County. The Cardinal Point Wind Farm, operated by Capital Power, opened early this year. It has 46 turbines in McDonough County and 14 in Warren County.

Ellen said it might be 2024 before the new, as yet unnamed wind farm is operating. He said the company must confirm wind speeds, gauge landowner interest, obtain permits, and complete other details.

“Projects like this, they take a long time to develop,” Ellen said. “We’ve had projects that have taken 10 years but we believe we’re looking at 3-5 years with this project. We’re confident we can do it (in that time frame).”

Ellen told the county board the wind farm will be a $300 million investment if it is built. He said the wind farm would generate $50 million in tax revenue over 30 years. It’s not yet known which school district(s) would benefit because the company is still deciding where to build the turbines.

Ellen also said more than 300 construction jobs would be created to build the farm, and there would be 8-12 permanent jobs.

The 200 megawatt wind farm could power roughly 60,000 homes.

The company already operates three wind farms in Illinois. They are in Macon, Ford, and Iroquois counties.

Ellen said RWE does on-shore and off-shore wind projects, solar farms, and battery storage. He said in Europe it is also involved with conventional energy sources such as natural gas, coal, and nuclear.

The company was founded in 1898. It has headquarters in Chicago and has been active in North America since 2006.

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