DECATUR – Soon the wind across the northern fields of Macon County could provide millions in new revenue.
The Macon County Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously supported a plan at its special meeting Tuesday that would allow Twin Forks Wind Farm, a subsidiary of E.ON, the American unit of Germany’s largest utility company, to construct and operate up to 140 wind turbines across the northern part of the county.
Under the special-use permit, the wind farm will operate in Macon County for 30 years, with an estimated $46 million of new tax revenue generated over the life of the project, with much of it going toward the Maroa-Forsyth and Warrensburg-Latham school districts.
“Twin Forks will be part of this community for a long time to come,” said Michael Blaszer, an attorney representing Twin Forks. “We want to make absolutely sure we get off on the right foot and they start being a good neighbor and good corporate citizen and that it continues through the life of the project.”
In addition to the farm and turbines, the project would allow include an overheard transmission line, a collector substation, a switching station, operations and maintenance facility and temporary staging, laying down equipment and preparing concrete.
Turbines will not be placed within 1,500 feet of any residence. Energy generated by the wind warm would go into the PJM Interconnection, a massive grid spread throughout 13 states in the Midwest and East.
E.ON would still need to acquire a road-use agreement. Officials said Tuesday they planned to study the roads in the targeted area to guarantee they remain at least in their current condition and that extra traffic does not impede farm operations.
Before the board's vote Tuesday afternoon, nearly eight hours were spent with a comprehensive breakdown on the planned construction and operation of the wind farm, its economic impact and the long-term plan for E.ON's operation of the farm.
A standing-room only crowd in the Macon County Office Building listened and took notes as more than a dozen residents asked questions about how the wind farm could impact local property value and about the perceived noise issues that come with turbines.
With the zoning board's recommendation, the plan now heads to the county's Environmental, Education, Health and Welfare Committee, which is set for Aug. 20. If approved there, the plan is expected to be voted on by the full board at its September meeting.