The on-again, off-again wind farm project in my area is now off again. Navitas Energy got all the plans going and all the permits in order and were ready to break ground. Meanwhile, a freeze went out on all other pending wind farms because the State of Illinois congress couldn’t get their collective thumbs out of their asses (more on that in a moment), leaving two more nearby wind farm projects stalled.
Then Navitas sold the project to Spanish energy company Iberdrola. People lamented this would be the end of it, we’d never see any money, and so on. I said no, if they’re investing the money, they’ve got to be interested in building and it won’t change the previous agreements and contracts.
I was wrong. The pinheads at Iberdrola decided they want to build the towers to 475 feet rather than the previous 400 feet. This means they now have to start from scratch with the application and permit process and pay the various fees. Construction that was supposed to begin in 2008 is now going to be held off indefinitely.
As I said, the State Congress is the first problem. They can’t decide how to tax the energy companies on their wind farms, so all the counties are tabling all discussion of the wind farms and their permits until they know what kind of tax base they’ll be seeing from the projects. In their usual lethargy and lack of urgency, the politicos have already shot down two bills and are debating a third (I imagine this is why our state budget is among the worst in the nation).
Once congress gets their heads out of their asses, it’s back to the counties. But now the counties are going to have to have meetings all over again, hold public bitch sessions, and generally start from square one themselves. They already faced law suits and other legal headaches the first time around, so I can’t imagine they’re going to be too thrilled with the prospect of dealing with that all over again.
On top of that, the NIMBY whiners are going to come out of the woodwork and take advantage of their second chance. They’ll find ways to sabotage the process, cite new studies, and generally bitch about all the inconveniences they’re going to have to endure when these things get built.
I don’t know what Iberdrola was thinking. How do these companies stay in business making these kinds of decisions? I’m sure some number cruncher figured the investment in the taller towers outweighed the costs of fighting it through, but what happens if the whole thing gets shot down? I’d be willing to bet they paid millions to Navitas to take over the project, and it will probably cost them at least a couple million more before they even break ground.
And people wonder why the US is having so much trouble developing alternative energy sources.