Pike Co., Ill. wind farm project has new life

A wind farm project in Pike County, Illinois that stalled back in 2008 now has a very promising future.

Prairie Power was trying to construct a wind farm, but put a hold on that project when the economy took a turn for the worse.

The wind farm project was then transferred to Affinity Wind, a company Prairie Power had worked with previously.

Affinity Wind has given the possibility of a wind farm in Pike County some new life.

KHQA's Jarod Wells has the details.

The area around the current wind turbine on the west side of Pittsfield is just one area of suitable land for a wind farm in Pike County, Illinois. Trey Goede and Affinity Wind has been working on the Pike County, Illinois wind farm project for more than three years.

Goede said, "What we've been doing for the past three years is really establishing what land we're going to use. We've been looking at wind resource. We put up a meteorological tower just west of Pittsfield."

Affinity Wind has been logging the wind resource for the past 14 months, but plenty of work had already been done by Prairie Power prior to transferring the project to Affinity Wind.

Goede said, "What came with that was a lot of their transmission line work. They had some of the land owners already contracted on lease option agreements for the project. We transferred them over to Affinity Wind and Affinity Wind now has additional land owners that are willing to participate in the project."

On January 14th, Affinity Wind entered into a joint venture with Chicago based Suzlon Wind Energy Corporation, the third largest turbine manufacturer in the world. That company has committed financially to the project and to selling the turbines to Affinity Wind.

Goede said, "Where we're at right now, we are about 90% there in terms of doing what we said we're going to do. We are connecting to Prairie Power transmission lines and the last piece of the puzzle is to sell the power on what's called a power purchase agreement, who's going to purchase this power."

The project will be done in two phases. Phase one will be 36 megawatts, consisting of 18 - 2 megawatt turbines.

Goede said, "We kind of sized that 36 megawatts to that level, because we can get that online more quickly than the total 150 megawatt project size."

Current Prairie Power transmission lines and poles can hold the 36 megawatts. Phase two will be the remaining 114 megawatts. Transmission lines will have to be upgraded to withstand that power.

Goede said, "Pike County has a turbine zoning ordinance in place. And where other communities have run into problems and projects have stalled, it's been in places where there is not a turbine zoning ordinance."

Phase one of this project should be under construction in the next three to six months and be completed by the end of 2011. Phase two is expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

The entire project will cost a minimum of $240 million.

It will create about 600 jobs through construction and more permanent jobs will be created once the wind farm is completed.