The Winnebago County Board in Illinois voted 27-1 in favor of an ordinance designating wind farms in the county as a permitted use. The vote made Winnebago County the first in the state to authorize the construction of wind farms through an administrative review process.
A coalition of supporters, led by Andrew Evans, a project developer at Gamesa, pushed for adoption of the ordinance. The new rules were widely endorsed by community groups, including local labor unions and the farming community, according to Gamesa.
A permitted use differs from a special use in that it sets clear, uniform, countywide standards. The ordinance adopted by Winnebago County avoids the uncertainty of special-use approval, streamlines the application process and provides firm guidelines for appropriately constructing wind farms.
‘I hope our wind farm ordinance will serve as a model for other counties in Illinois and the nation,’ says Scott Christiansen, Winnebago County board chair. ‘This result was a product of months of coordination between the county and wind farm developer Gamesa Energy USA.’
According to the Winnebago County board, Gamesa's Whispering Prairie Wind Farm will be the first project considered for approval under the new regulations.