Attorneys representing the project’s developers argued the extension is necessary because opponents in Champaign County fought a legal battle against the project for roughly a decade. Members of Union Neighbors United tangled with the developers in a legal battle over everything from the safety of the project to the state’s approval process.
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Last year, Everpower and UNU reached an agreement that would potentially allow the project to move forward. Among those changes, the developers pledged to slash the number of turbines to be built from about 100 to no more than 50. But after that deal was reached, a new group of residents who oppose the project filed to intervene in the amended proposal.
State officials approved the first certificate allowing the project to be built in March 2010, according to documents filed with the OPSB. That approval included several conditions, including requiring that the certificate would expire if construction did not begin within five years. The OPSB approved an extension of the original certificate in 2014. A second phase of the project was approved for construction in May 2013, but the case continues to be tied up in the courts.
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A project schedule filed with the extenstion request shows final designs for the wind farm could be completed as soon as the third quarter of this year. Both phases of the project could be operational by the end of next year if the project moves forward.
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Documents filed by the developers show further opposition is likely.
“Although applicants continue to work diligently to develop the projects, the delays incurred as a result of litigation have delayed applicants’ ability to commence actual construction of the projects,” the request states. “Further, with amendments pending to both projects to reduce each projects’s size, it is very unlikely litigation surrounding the projects will be resolved by May 28, 2018.”
The Springfield News-Sun has provided award-winning coverage of plans to develop the Buckeye Wind Farm in Champaign County. For this story, the paper reviewed a request filed by the developers to extend the certificate of approval for the project to move forward.