Wind-farm developer seeking injunction on Douglas County township's ordinance

Wind-farm developer seeking injunction on Douglas County township's ordinance

NEWMAN — The future of a planned wind farm could be at stake Tuesday when EDP Renewables faces Murdock Township in Douglas County court.

Judge John Kennedy is scheduled to hear the case at the courthouse in Tuscola.

EDP Renewables has been developing the 200-megawatt Harvest Ridge Wind Farm in northeastern Douglas County since 2008.

One year later, in June 2009, the Douglas County Board approved an ordinance setting standards for wind farms in the county.

According to court documents, the application of the ordinance was intended to be countywide, including townships.

EDP filed its application with Douglas County for the wind farm on Oct. 24, 2018. In response, the county board approved a contract with Stanley Consultants, a consulting firm, to review wind-farm applications. EDP agreed to reimburse the county for Stanley's consulting work.

Almost three months earlier, on Aug. 8, Murdock Township sent a letter to the county board requesting a moratorium on processing wind-farm applications. That was followed on Sept. 13 by a letter from the township's attorney asking for a stay on the issuance of building permits for wind farms.

On Sept. 19, the county board denied the request for a moratorium, so on Oct. 15, the township's board voted to adopt its own zoning ordinance.

According to EDP attorney David D. Streicker, a portion of this new ordinance was designed "in a manner in which it would be effectively impossible to develop and permit the project."

EDP attorneys argued that the township's zoning rules establish setbacks for wind farms that are up to five times greater than the county's ordinance, required the installation of technology that the county ordinance does not require, established what it called "an arbitrary buffer around airports that is not required at the federal level," set stricter noise standards "that are impossible for wind turbines to meet," and included what the attorneys called "draconian decommissioning standards."

EDP attorneys are arguing that Murdock Township's actions are prejudicial to the project and are contrary to zoning authority granted to townships by the Illinois General Assembly.

They are also arguing that the township's zoning ordinance is an improper attempt to override the county's wind-farm ordinance.

According to court documents, the township's new zoning ordinance would make the development of the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm impossible.

As a result, EDP is asking the court for injunctive relief against the township's efforts.

Township Supervisor Brenda Logan could not be reached for comment.

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