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Proposed power plant developers want more time

Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 4:00 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 8:46 a.m. CST
The long sought energy facility in Oakwood Hills is closer to reality as a joint project between Northland Power and Enventure Partners would bring a 430-megawatt electric generating facility to the area. It would be a cash cow for Oakwood Hills, bringing more than $500,000 annually to schools in property taxes.
(Kyle Grillot)
Kyle Grillot - Joseph Vokaty of Crystal Lake (left) talks with Conrad Anderson, senior director of engineering for Enventure Partners, during an open house on the Oakwood Hills power plant project Tuesday in Crystal Lake. Oakwood Hills will host a zoning hearing on the project at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn on 800 S. Route 31.

OAKWOOD HILLS – Developers for a proposed $450 million power plant in Oakwood Hills want a continuation until October to address resident concerns, delaying Thursday’s scheduled time for more public comments on the project.

Conrad Anderson, senior engineer for joint project manager Enventure Partners, said developers noted a plethora of concerns from residents, school board members and doctors during presentations and open houses that project officials need more time to address.

He said after the 90-minute public comment session Thursday, developers decided to take time to create an information memorandum on each concern they have heard and offer solutions to residents by the proposed Oct. 9 zoning meeting.

“We made a mistake and we are trying to correct that mistake,” Anderson said of the time developers thought they would need to address concerns. “We want time to address all the concerns from the community and that is going to take time. Now we know all the concerns. We were guessing before.”

RELATED: Get caught up from the beginning of the Oakwood Hills power plant fight here

The zoning hearing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn on 800 S. Route 31, will still take place but likely only to officially push the hearing to the Oct. 9 date as there will be no public comment portion of the meeting. Zoning board chairman Marty Gierut said even with the delay, everyone will have the chance to voice their opinion.

“As far as I’m concerned I want everyone who signed up to speak to get a chance,” he said. “Everyone has a right to do that.”

Former project attorney Joe Gottemoller will not be with the developers when they return Oct. 9 after both sides agreed to part ways. Anderson said the continuation request had nothing to do with getting a new attorney.

Gottemoller said the decision was best for both parties.

“The local community gets to make the decision ... and certainly the local community is speaking pretty loud,” Gottemoller said. “I’ve done this for 30 years and I’ve never seen over 900 people before come out to a zoning hearing.”

Since learning about the project in early July, residents have voiced concerns over how the power plant could affect health, enviroment, real estate and the water supply. The superintendent and board members of District 46, as well as a Centegra physician, have joined those in the community opposing the project.

Developers said the 430 megawatt, natural gas plant is needed in the region where three of six coal plants have already shut down and more will soon follow, threatening the power supply to the northeast portion of the state.

The load-following power plant would produce energy on demand, minimizing risk for dangerous explosions because flammable gas would be stored on-site, developers said. They also told residents the 1.5 million gallons of water needed per day would mainly come from surrounding wastewater treatment plants, leaving the ground water supply intact.

Oakwood Village would receive a $1.3 million hosting fee and roughly $500,000 in annual tax revenue for schools if the plant were constructed.

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