Illinois' first wind farm opens

May 2, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- April 2004 Environmental Law and Policy Center's ENews: On Friday, March 26, ELPC joined Spanish wind developer, Gamesa Energia, in welcoming wind power to Illinois. Gamesa's Mendota Hills Wind Farm was dedicated Friday in Paw, Paw Illinois. This is the first wind farm to be built and operating in Illinois, and environmentalists, farmers, and wind developers hope it is just the beginning for wind in Illinois. The wind farm is made up of 63 Gamesa Energia wind turbines with a total capacity of 50.4 megawatts, which can power 15,000 homes a year. It is owned by Gamesa, a wind turbine manufacturer and developer that has developed many projects around the world, but none before in the United States.

The event featured remarks by Alfonso Basagoiti, President of Gamesa; Randy Swisher, Executive Director of the American Wind Energy Association; Jack Lavin, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Howard Learner, ELPC Executive Director. Mr. Learner emphasized the need for a state renewable energy portfolio standard that would enable more projects like the Mendota Hills wind farm to find a place in Illinois. He explained how renewable energy projects like wind farms are a win-win-win for Illinois because they add jobs, extra revenue for landowners, and clean energy for the environment. The wind farm at Mendota Hills will provide 39 farmers with annual payments of $3,000 to $5,000 for each wind turbine on their property.