Two wind farms under development in northeast Illinois are expected to add another 300 megawatts of clean-energy capacity to the state, which is fast becoming a leading wind power in the US.
The Settlers Trail Wind Farm in Iroquois County and the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm in Iroquois and Ford counties are being developed by E.ON Climate & Renewables (ECRNA), a subsidiary of the German-based energy company E.ON. Each wind farm will feature 94 GE 1.6-megawatt wind turbines, a step above GE’s 1.5-megawatt “workhorse” turbine. To be erected on 80-meter-tall towers, the 82.5-meter-diameter rotors will together supply enough energy to meet the needs of around 115,000 US households.
“Settlers Trail and Pioneer Trail are examples of how wind projects can bring jobs, rental income for farmers and property tax benefits to rural regions,” said Steve Trenholm, CEO of ECRNA. “These projects also will help Illinois move closer to meeting its Renewables Portfolio Standard requirement to have 25 percent of the state’s power supplied by renewable energy resources by 2024-2025.”
According to the American Wind Energy Association, Illinois has moved up to sixth in the US in wind energy production, with more than 2,286 megawatts of installed wind power capacity at the end of March 2011. In particular, the northern and central parts of the state offer wind speeds that make wind farms economically viable. Equally important is that these regions are close to existing high-voltage power lines, enabling cost-effective transmission to Chicago and other major Midwestern population centers.