WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Western Illinois Wind Project Scaled Down

Sep 12, 2016

Plans for the Cardinal Point Wind Farm are changing before construction begins.  The current generation of turbines can generate more power than past models so fewer turbines will be needed.

"We've gone from over 200 turbines in this project to potentially less than 100," said Kim Pierce, Executive Director, Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDCO).

She said the original plan was to build turbines that could generate 1 or 1.5 megawatts of power. But she said today's turbines can produce up to 3 megawatts.

She said the change in the number of turbines means less land will be needed.

The initial plan called for portions of the farm to be built in McDonough, Warren, and Henderson Counties, but Pierce said that's no longer the case.

"What's happened as it's kind of evolved ...  it is McDonough County only. Potentially a little bit into Warren (but) don't know that that's going to happen. It's definitely only one school district, though, and that would be West Prairie," Pierce said.

She estimated the project will still create 200 construction jobs, and 10-12 full-time jobs when the farm is operational.

The project was initially proposed by Eco-Energy.  Element Power took over a year or two later, and it then sold the project to Canada-based Capital Power within the last couple years.  Pierce said Capital Power is now working to renew leases with landowners and to clear some permitting hurdles with the state.

"We're confident in it moving forward," Pierce said. "And from all of our discussions with them, it looks like construction should start in early 2018."

She said the company must also order the turbines, which she said could take 18-24 months to build. And she said the company is still deciding on the best alignment for the structures.