By Jim Hagerty
The controversial state Senate bill that would shift the authority to regulate wind farm siting from county governments to the Illinois Department of Agriculture is not set to advance and is expected to remain at the committee level until further notice.
“The bill is not going to move any time soon,” state Sen. John Sullivan, D-Quincy, said. “It needs more work and support of the counties. If that can’t be done, we’ll have to start over with a new bill.”
Sullivan sponsored the Senate Bill 3236, creating the Wind Energy Facilities Construction and Deconstruction Act to give small counties better resources in regulating large commercial wind farms.
Under the bill, all county ordinances regarding commercial wind farms would be replaced with state laws, regulated by the agricultural department.
Few leaders supported the measure, claiming wind farm siting should remain a local issue, and laws pertaining to corporate wind should be made by the people it affects the most — not the statehouse.
“I didn’t agree with the legislation in the first place,” said Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R). “We need local control over our local land use and communities. That control doesn’t need to be determined in Springfield or (Washington) D.C. There’s a lot going on with the budget and pensions. Let’s see some bills on that.”
The bill was the initiative of the Illinois Farm Bureau. The bureau advocates an Illinois standard for siting, construction and deconstruction of commercial wind farms. The bill also calls for operators to enter into mitigation agreements with the state detailing deconstruction and how land affected by turbines will be restored.
“We are hoping for more negotiations,” Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director of State Legislation Bill Bodine said. “Hopefully, changes will be made to allow the existing bill to advance. However, that doesn’t look like that will happen in its current form.”
There are 19 commercial wind farms in Illinois, sited in 15 counties, including DeKalb, Lee and Stephenson. Projects in Boone, Ogle and Winnebago counties have also been proposed, but have been withdrawn for various reasons.
From the April 2-9, 2014