AP NEWS

Correction: Mississippi River Bluffs Wind Farm story

December 18, 2018

VALMEYER, Ill. (AP) — In a story Dec. 15 about a proposed wind farm in southern Illinois, The Associated Press attributed a quote in support of the project to the wrong person. It was Scott Foster, of the German company that would manufacture the wind turbines, not developer Joe Koppeis, who said the quote that begins, “The reason why I’m in this industry is that I have two children.” The AP also erroneously reported that conservation groups oppose the proposed project because it could change the character of the rural landscape. It is local residents who oppose it for that reason.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Proposed southern Illinois wind farm faces opposition

Environmentalists in southern Illinois have raised concerns that a proposed wind turbine project will diminish the area’s natural beauty and hurt animal habitat

VALMEYER, Ill. (AP) — Environmentalists in southern Illinois have raised concerns that a proposed wind turbine project will diminish the area’s natural beauty and hurt animal habitat.

Developer Joe Koppeis, who owns Southern Illinois Wind, hopes to place 50 wind turbines along 15 miles of bluffs south of Valmeyer and Waterloo, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. Koppeis expects the project to cost $220 million.

“The reason why I’m in this industry is that I have two children, and I firmly believe renewable energy is the way to go,” said Scott Foster, senior director of North American sales for Senvion, a German company that would manufacture the turbines. “Every wind turbine that’s installed reduces the need for the burning of fossil fuels.”

The project could also generate raise tax revenue for government services, such as local schools.

Local residents say the wind farm could change the character of the rural landscape and harm wildlife. They also fear the project will lessen property values and make the area feel more industrial.

“Don’t get me wrong, we are all for alternative energy,” said Joann Fricke, 64, a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture employee who lives near the proposed project. “But this is just not the right place for a wind farm.”

The opposition gained support in October with the release of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Ecological Compliance Assessment Tool report, which examined how the proposed project would affect natural areas and endangered species. The agency recommended that the developer move the project’s location.

The proposed location in Monroe County is karst, which is eroded limestone, according to Keith Shank, an IDNR manager in realty and capital planning who led the EcoCAT study.

“Wind turbines weigh thousands of pounds, and they need huge concrete foundations that go down 12 to 20 feet,” he said. “That’s a lot of weight that’s not on the ground now, and the thing with karst, you never know whether there’s a void under your feet. So it’s a challenge to build anything in this part of the county.”

Koppeis said he’s working on feasibility studies to address the environmental concerns and help find suitable locations for the turbines.

“Right now, I think people are making assumptions that the data is not backing up,” he said.

Koppeis hopes to apply for a special-use permit from the Monroe County Board of Commissioners in the coming months.