25% of Illinois’ electricity is supposed to be generated by renewable energy sources by 2025, under the Future Energy Jobs Act – and that’s going to require a big increase in wind farms across the state. But one northern Illinois county made it much tougher for the wind industry to expand Wednesday night.
It took more than nine months of meetings, research, and debates – and in the end, the DeKalb County Board overwhelmingly approved a wind energy ordinance. County board chair Mark Pietrowski says it was a long process, but it was necessary. “The biggest thing,” he said after the county board meeting, “was just the sheer mass of information that’s out there.”
The new regulations are meant to protect neighbors from the noise and flickering lights others in the county have experienced with less-regulated wind farms. They include 3,000 foot setbacks from neighboring properties, no shadow flicker, and very low maximum noise levels. Brad Belanger has been a strong supporter of the strict regulations. He said, “The board did their due diligence in coming up with the ordinance that addresses both the health, welfare, and property rights. What a wonderful way to start off the Thanksgiving weekend.”
Representatives from one proposed DeKalb County wind farm project said earlier this year they could not site their turbines if this ordinance passed. Pietrowski says wind farms can operate under the new rules – they might just have to spend more money up front.