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Ogle County company kills wind farm plan

Published: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 4:12 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 5:08 p.m. CST

OREGON — It’s no longer just a whisper: A Spain-based company is withdrawing its plans for a wind farm in Ogle County.

Gamesa USA had planned the Whispering Prairie wind farm for Ogle, Winnebago and Stephenson counties.

But in November, the company informed landowners it was terminating the lease options for wind turbines.

The company said it found the wind project wasn’t commercially viable.

It’s one of a number of proposed projects in Ogle County that have fallen by the wayside.

The company had planned about 100 turbines — 40 of them in Ogle County, between Byron and Leaf River.

Ogle County Zoning Administrator Michael Reibel said he wasn’t surprised to hear Gamesa was pulling out.

“We never had any detailed information from Gamesa about the project,” he said. “About all we knew was that they were planning to secure lease agreements. We knew they were working hard in Winnebago County. They really didn’t do that much in Ogle County.”

Other companies have withdrawn plans for turbines near Kings and west of Mount Morris, and another firm planning a project near Forreston hasn’t done much in recent times, Reibel said.

The proposed Baileyville wind farm, between Forreston and Leaf River, appears most likely to happen, but it has been mired in litigation, he said.

Meanwhile, Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power plans an 81-turbine farm in Lee, Whiteside and Bureau counties. Whiteside County approved its plan, while Lee County is still holding public hearings. The company withdrew its proposal for Bureau County after the zoning panel rejected it. Mainstream says it will resubmit a plan.

David Loomis, director of Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy, said the renewable energy industry isn’t planning many more wind farms now. He said the windiest sites have been built or are under leases.

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