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Oakwood Hills power plant opposition group hopes to stay together after victory

Photo provided
David Haapoja, a Oakwood Hills resident on Greenview Road, said he no longer needs the power plant protest sign now in the recycle bin on trash day.
Photo provided David Haapoja, a Oakwood Hills resident on Greenview Road, said he no longer needs the power plant protest sign now in the recycle bin on trash day.

OAKWOOD HILLS – Less than 24 hours after the proposed power plant for Oakwood Hills was withdrawn, Ryan Noonan found himself still fighting against the project.

Noonan, one of the leaders of the Power Plant Opposition Group, started his Thursday by picking up $200 worth of printed copies of the expert report the group planned to distribute to residents and Oakwood Hills officials to study the potential dangers of the plant.

The report was one of the many tools the group used in the fight against the power plant, in addition to substantial support from residents and surrounding communities. The opposition group raised $30,897 in its effort, and Noonan expects anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000 to be left over after all legal fees and other expenses are paid.

“We made a commitment that the money would go to good cause in the local areas,” Noonan said of using the remaining money. “But we’re not going to start writing checks to charities quite yet until we make sure everything is paid and this is all over.”

The money spent on yard signs, commissioning expert reports and hiring legal assistance paid off for the group as developers of the proposed project said they heard the opposition loud and clear.

Scott Stevens, executive director of business development for co-developer Northland Power, said while the company believes the power plant is still a positive project, the opposition led to the withdrawal.

“Clearly there was a significant number of people opposed to the project, and it was well-organized opposition,” Stevens said. “If people take a position in the very beginning, it’s pretty hard to change people’s mind after the fact.”

Though the power plant proposal has been defeated, Chris Christensen said he expects the opposition group to stick together moving forward and focus its efforts on other community needs, whether it is benches in need of painting or functions in need of volunteers.

He said the Facebook page Stop the Oakwood Hills Power Plant likely would get a name change and become a sounding board for citizens. Christensen, who was a leading member of the group, said his primary focus would be to encourage everyone to stay involved, vote and even run for office if they are interested.

“This wasn’t just a great civic lesson for Oakwood Hills, it was a great civic lesson for McHenry County,” Christensen said. “When you can get 1,000 people to show up at a meeting and 3,500 people on a Facebook page, you realize you can make a difference and you can win.”

Noonan said he would continue to provide financial updates about how money remains and what it will be used for on the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NoPeakerPlant.

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