A new crop is being harvested among the corn and soybean fields of rural Ford and Iroquois counties in Illinois: wind power. E.On Climate & Renewables (EC&R) has announced the installation of the first wind turbines at the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm, approximately four miles east of Paxton. The 150-megawatt (MW) capacity project will ultimately consist of 94 GE 1.6-MW wind turbines, and is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 45,000 homes. The wind farm is expected to be placed into service by mid-2012.
The project is being built by Clinton, Ind.-based White Construction. In addition to more than $29 million dollars in local taxes, EC&R says it will pay $8 million in local salaries and more than $50 million to landowners over the lifetime of the project. EC&R expects to create approximately 200 jobs during construction, and 8 to 10 permanent operations positions in Iroquois County. The company also donated $15,000 to the local school district and to the community swimming pool.
Dusseldorf, Germany-based E.On is one of the world’s largest investor-owned utility companies. The company is in the process of transitioning its primarily natural-gas powered portfolio to renewable energy generation resources around the world. Once complete, the Pioneer Trail Wind Farm will be EC&R’s 15th wind farm in operation in North America, bringing the German company’s total North American wind capacity to more than 2,000 MW.
The site’s proximity to high-voltage transmission lines will enable the wind farm to deliver power to Chicago and other mid-western population centers. “We are honored to be a part of the local community, and we look forward to providing economic support and renewable, homegrown energy for many years to come,” Steve Trenholm, CEO, EC&R North America, said in a statement. “Wind farms create jobs, and provide an economic shot in the arm to farmers, ranchers, and rural communities across America.”