Hoopeston wind farm building permit extended for a year

Hoopeston wind farm building permit extended for a year

DANVILLE — Vermilion County has extended for another year Apex Wind Energy's building permit for the proposed 43-turbine Hoopeston Wind Project west of Rossville.

The extension gives the Virginia-based company until April 2014 to break ground.

The extension also allows the project to adhere to parameters set out in Vermilion County's original wind ordinance, requiring turbines to be 1,000 feet from a primary structure, which includes houses.

Since the project's permit was first issued early in 2012, the county has changed its wind ordinance, increasing the setback, or distance between wind turbines and structures, to 1,200 feet from a primary structure.

Last month, county board officials and local residents testified before an independent panel, requesting that the setbacks be increased more than 1,200 feet and requesting other changes to the county's ordinance, but the panel decided not to recommend any changes to the county's wind ordinance. A report from that panel will be presented to the full county board at Tuesday night's monthly meeting.

Also, county officials will bring to the attention of the county board members the permit extension for Apex Wind Energy, but Vermilion County Board Chairman Gary Weinard said no action from the board is required. Weinard said under the terms of original permit, Apex only had to request an extension to receive and does not need any board approval. The county board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, 6 N. Vermilion St, Danville.

Bill Donahue, attorney for the county, said Apex Wind Energy sent the county a letter late last month formally asking for an extension of the construction permit.

The Hoopeston Wind Project was actually the first proposed wind farm that applied for a permit from the county, but it has met with multiple delays. In the meantime, Invenergy's California Ridge project has been built and is now operating in western Vermilion County and eastern Champaign County.

Changes in ownership have been the reason for some of the delays with the Hoopeston Wind Project. International Power America Inc. was the original company that submitted an application to the county for a wind turbine building permit in early 2011. But the company pulled its application from consideration just before the county's structural safety committee made a decision to approve it, and later, the company merged with France-based GDF Suez. Then, in January 2012 the newly merged company resubmitted its application, which was approved.

Earlier this year, Apex Wind Energy took over the Hoopeston Wind Project from the owners with the intent to carry through with the plans.

According to its website, Apex Wind Energy Inc. is an independent renewable energy company based in Charlottesville, Va. Since its founding in 2009, Apex has completed 15 acquisitions and become one of the fastest-growing companies in the industry. In December 2012, Apex completed the development and construction of the 300 megawatt Canadian Hills Wind project outside Oklahoma City.

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