As wind farms grow in Illinois, so do concerns

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Fifty wind farms have opened in Illinois since 2003 and more are in the works, but not everyone is on board.

The state ranks sixth nationwide with 2,778 operational wind turbines, according to The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, which cited the American Wind Energy Association. McLean County is expected to have four wind farms soon.

Illinois could make enough wind energy by 2030 to power the equivalent of 7.2 million average U.S. homes, according to the federal Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Scenario.

While proponents praise job creation and the alternative energy source, opponents argue they don’t generate as much electricity as traditional power plants over time, are an eyesore and affect property values. Some environmentalists worry about the affect on wildlife, including bats.

Some counties have tightened restrictions on wind projects, which require a complicated approval process including public hearings.

Illinois’ first wind farm opened in 2003 near Mendota. By last year, turbines spun 6.8% of Illinois’ generated electricity, according to the newspaper.

Floyd Morefield of rural Bloomington, who has two turbines on his property, thinks opponents don’t fully grasp the economic benefits.

“I believe wind farms are a part of the future,” he said. “In McLean County, we have seen improvements to roads and schools.”

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