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Our View: Power plant concerns should be addressed

Published: Sunday, July 20, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

A proposal for a $450 million power plant in Oakwood Hills is a big deal on may levels, particularly to the residents of Oakwood Hills – many of whom will oppose the plan.

Residents of any town don’t rally in support of power plants, or frankly, most major developments. But residents also need electricity, and there will be a need in Illinois for more power plants as dirty coal plants continue shutting down.

The market, and the communities themselves, will dictate where these plants are built. What makes the Oakwood Hills site attractive to Enventure Partners is the proximity to already existing overheard power lines and an already existing natural gas line adjacent to the site.

The proposal for the 430-megawatt, natural gas plant has obviously raised concern from some of the about 2,200 residents of the town north of Cary, and some residents of nearby Prairie Grove. Some of the concerns are understandable.

The biggest issue is water. Power plants are water hogs, and plant developers make no secret of the fact that they plan to need about 1.5 million gallons of water a day on average. In a county where residents draw their water from the ground as opposed to the Great Lakes, it’s a concern worth discussing.

Enventure Partner’s solution to that issue is to work with area municipalities such as Crystal Lake to harness their “gray” water from their sewage treatment plants and drawing about 35 percent of the needed water from a deep aquifer that isn’t on the same geologic plane from where residents draw their water.

There are some positives to the project, including about 250 temporary construction jobs over a few years and about 20 permanent jobs. The bigger bonus is a $1.3 million fee for the village and about $500,000 in property taxes that largely would go to Prairie Grove School District 46 and School District 155.

Natural gas also is considered a relatively clean form of energy, and the project is slated for an industrial part of town on Valley View Drive near Snap-On Tools and Oakwood Hills Village Hall.

This project won’t happen overnight, and we urge Oakwood Hills and other public officials involved to look closely at the plan and make sure concerns are addressed openly and transparently.

An open house is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake, while a zoning board hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the same location.

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