WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Plans Continue for Western Illinois Wind Farm

Jan 23, 2015

Developers are not worried even though it’s been six years since plans were unveiled for a wind farm in Warren and McDonough Counties.

A central Illinois wind farm
Credit Rich Egger

“Sometimes people forget how significant of a construction project we’re trying to do here,” said consultant Barry Fladeboe. 

“I think when you look at the scale and the overall capital invested, a wind farm is about the same type of investment as many skyscrapers. So if you think about it like that, it’s a pretty neat project to bring out to a rural area.”

He said the wind farm will likely be “at least a $250 million capital raising effort.” Fladeboe said most of the costs go into the turbines.  He said the towers are all steel and it’s expensive to build and erect each turbine.  

Fladeboe said it’s typical to be four-to-seven years into a development before something happens.  So the development cycle is “very normal” for this project, which is called Cardinal Point.

“We’re very excited about 2016, ’17, and ’18,” he said.

“The primary reason this project hasn’t been built yet is simply that no one in Illinois has been buying power from renewable energy for the past couple of years.”

It’s not known when construction will begin. Fladeboe said the project is in an advanced development stage. He said most of the permits are in place. What's now needed is a power purchase agreement, ie, a contract with a company that will buy the energy produced.

The project was initially proposed by Eco-Energy.  Element Power took over about five years ago, and it recently sold the project to Canada-based Capitol Power.  Fladeboe has worked on it for both Element and Capitol.

Kim Pierce, Executive Director of the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDCO), said the project could benefit from the new ownership.

“Capitol Power is in the wind business. Element Power, while they’re a great company, that was not what their emphasis was,” said Pierce.

She said even though the project has changed names and owners a few times, she remains optimistic it will come to fruition.