The DeWitt county board will soon decide on allowing the Tradewind Energy Alta II wind energy conversion project to proceed in western DeWitt County. The Regional Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) have already studied the project and recommended disapproval. Principal among their concerns was the location of 67 591-foot-tall towers (100 feet taller than any in Illinois), each set in 30,000 tons of cement directly atop of the Mahomet Aquifer. The weight, vibration, and potential leaching into the aquifer wasn’t considered by Tradewind Energy in their special use application, and the project engineer heard of the aquifer for the first time during the ZBA hearings.
The ZBA heard testimony regarding the impact of these machines on the NWS Doppler radar in Lincoln. The impact was demonstrated on December 1 when the signature from the tornado that hit Livingston was lost as the system passed through the Radford’s Run complex in Maroa. Local weather broadcasters believed the system had dissipated and the channel returned to the regular broadcast, only to have the tornado reappear and cause more damage near Leroy.
These projects are a nuisance to the people forced to live within their footprint, they are a threat to a stable electric transmission system, and they effectively lock-in reliance on fossil fuel to compensate for intermittency. They’re only a symbolic gesture to climate change concerns and should be recognized as such.