NORMAL — The developer behind a proposed northern McLean County wind farm laid out its plan for what it said are safe sound and wildlife practices Thursday at the second in a series of public hearings.
Invenergy, the Chicago company planning to build its 100-turbine McLean County Wind Energy Center across 13,000 acres in Chenoa, Gridley, Lexington and Money Creek townships, presented on those topics for more than 100 people at Heartland Community College’s Astroth Community Education Center in Normal.
Michael Hankard, president and principal at Wisconsin firm Hankard Environmental, spoke about noise levels residents and others can expect from the turbines, which are expected to total 250 megawatts in electrical generating capacity, or enough for 69,000 homes.
Residents questioned whether the state acoustic standards the project will satisfy are legitimate.
A woman who will live near six turbines questioned if it's possible for Invenergy or the county to accurately portray what the sound will be like there after the project is done, before 2021.
Invenergy’s website for the project cites a Maine Centers for Disease Control study that found wind turbines produce sound comparable to a quiet, air-conditioned office.
Invenergy’s environmental permitting manager, Andrea Giampoli, and others also discussed efforts to observe and respect the local wildlife population. Officials spent years documenting local wildlife behavior to make sure it won’t be affected, and the plan includes specific setbacks to avoid impacting wild birds and bats.
“None of the turbines we're installing will affect any streams," said Invenergy Vice President Kevin Parzyck.
Lexington resident Glenn Schwass questioned whether Invenergy is doing enough to study how the wind farms affect pets and other land animals, but Parzyck said "there's no evidence of a problem."
The company discussed the broad outline of the project at another hearing Tuesday. Parzyck said Chenoa, Gridley and Lexington officials are talking with the company to get on board with the farm.
Construction is to start in 2018 or 2019, and the farm is to be operational in 2019 or 2020.
Another public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Room 400 in the Government Center, 115 E. Washington St., downtown Bloomington.