The fourth-largest renewable energy company in the world, RWE Renewables merged in October 2019 with E.ON Climate & Renewables’ North American operations. The company has built and operates 24 wind farms across the United States, including four here in the Midwest, keeping more than 2,250 turbines running to generate low-cost, homegrown electricity. RWE has a strong presence in the Midwest, with its North American headquarters based in Chicago and investments of more than $1 billion throughout the region. According to the non-profit American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Wind Powers American Annual Report 2019, RWE ranked 6th in cumulative U.S. wind power capacity ownership market share, with 3,246 MWs and 3.1 % capacity owned.
RWE completed construction of the Radford’s Run wind farm in 2017, which immediately began delivering economic benefits to the area. RWE began working with Macon County the same year to explore bringing the benefits of wind energy to the area, finding strong support from local landowners and others. As owner-operator of nearly all its projects, RWE has developed a reputation for being a committed, engaged, and honest community partner.
Proposed Greenswitch Project:
Since 2017, RWE has been working to develop the Greenswitch wind energy project in Macon County. A preliminary study of critical issues, including wildlife habitats and wetlands, has been completed with no major issues discovered.
Desired target dates:
- RWE expects to have enough land under lease by 2021 to pursue developing the project.
- Turbine layout / placement is expected by late 2021.
- Construction is anticipated to begin in 2022.
- By the end of 2022, the project would be operational.
- The development site is primarily agricultural, consisting primarily of corn and soybeans.
- The project site encompasses approximately 18,000 acres.
- 187 megawatts of clean, inexpensive, homegrown energy from 40 to 63 turbines – enough to power approximately 50,000 Illinois homes every year.
- Proposed completion in 2022 with an anticipated operational life of 30 years.
Estimated economic boost for the community (#s based on currently proposed size of project):
- RWE overall investment of $250+ million in the local community.
- 150+ construction jobs during the 12-month construction phase of the project. RWE expects to employ local labor whenever possible to further benefit the community.
- 8 to 12 full-time jobs created.
- At least $25 to $30 million in tax revenues provided to local government, schools, and public safety departments over approximately 30 years.
- More than $1 million in stable, yearly lease payments to Macon County family farmers and landowners over 30 years, all while leaving 99% of the land in the project area unchanged. Much of this money would be spent locally, generating further economic activity in the community. It will also provide reliable income and much-needed stability for family farmers in the area.
- Miles of local roads will be upgraded to meet the logistical needs for construction and operation of the wind farm AT NO COST TO TAXPAYERS.
EXAMPLE OF BENEFITS MACON COUNTY RECEIVED FROM RADFORD’S RUN WIND FARM:
- RWE’s Radford’s Run project in Macon County was completed in 2017. Its 139 Vestas 2.2 megawatt turbines produce 305 MW, enough to power 90,000 homes, and will generate $46 million in revenue and landowner payments for the area, helping to sustain and boost the local economy.
- Radford’s Run is the largest single-phase wind farm built in Illinois and was the largest wind farm built in the entire country in 2017.
- The wind farm represents a long-term, stable and reliable source of revenue to support the county’s budget, helping to fund priorities such as schools, first-responders and key infrastructure projects.
- $46 million will be paid in local tax revenue over 30 years:
- $4.7 million to Austin Township
- $2.6 million to Maroa Township
- $7 million for social services, public safety, etc.
- $31.8 million to local school districts
- The benefits of the project extend across Macon County. Every property owner in the county has enjoyed a reduction in property taxes due to the revenues generated by the wind farm.
- RWE spent $20 million to upgrade over 80 miles of local roads at no cost to the county. Because of the high quality of the construction, maintenance or repair will not be necessary for many years – saving the community even more.
- Approximately $48 million will be paid in stable lease payments to over 300 farmers, ranchers, and other landowners for 30 years.
- More than 300 on-site jobs were created during the construction phase.
- Construction of the project generated $52-54 million in direct spending on local labor, materials, and subcontractors.
- More than $20 million was spent on local labor, with work carried out by members of the following unions:
- Local 965 Operators, from Springfield, Illinois
- Local 46 Iron Workers from Springfield, Illinois
- Local 159 Laborers, from Decatur, Illinois
- Local 146 Electricians from Decatur, Illinois
- Major Construction Materials Sourced locally worth $16.5 million
- Concrete supplied by Prairie Materials-Denny Oedewaldt
- Aggregate sourced from Hanson Materials in Nokomis Illinois and hauled by McLeod Express, LLC
- Rebar was supplied by CMC from Kankakee, Illinois
- Consumables $2.3 million:
- Construction materials were locally-sourced, creating sales for small businesses located in the area surrounding the project.
- Approximately $13.1 million was spent on local subcontractors, primarily local firms that performed work on road improvements with local labor and local materials.
- 21 permanent jobs were created.
- More than $20 million was spent on local labor, with work carried out by members of the following unions:
HOW RWE IS ADDRESSING:
|Insufficient setback distance||
RWE goes above and beyond in locating (siting) turbines in a responsible manner. We’ve committed to siting turbines no closer than 1,500 feet from all residences, both participating and non-participating. We also recognize that some landowners are very interested in hosting turbines. We will be flexible and work cooperatively with each participating landowner to address potential changes to the distance on a case by case basis.
|Turbine Noise||Wind turbines, like any modern machinery, do create some sound from the rotation of the blades and from the generator and internal components themselves. However, thanks in large part to efficiencies in aerodynamics and engineering design, the sound produced by today’s advanced, state-of-the-art turbines is a fraction compared to that of older turbines. Nearly all complaints about noise come from these older models. We encourage everybody to come visit one of our operating wind farms and listen for yourself! You will be amazed how quiet the turbines are.|
Wind turbines are tall structures with moving parts and as such will cast a shadow. We understand this and locate turbines far from residences and hubs of activity to ensure that there is minimal shadow flicker. In fact, we complete a thorough analysis and modeling of potential shadow flicker, incorporating turbine and residence locations as well as local weather conditions. As it’s not always bright and sunny in central Illinois throughout the year, we aim to create a realistic expectation of when and how much shadow flicker will occur so that we can limit it to just a few minutes a day (at most) during particular times and weather conditions.
|Impact on property values||
There is no peer-reviewed evidence that wind turbines lower property values in communities where wind farms exist. In fact, many communities actually see property values around wind farms go up – which makes sense considering the significant guaranteed income associated with the property and the additional millions of dollars in tax revenue those communities have as a result of the wind farm.
|Medical access helicopter||
There are hundreds of wind farms operating around the country. Amongst all these projects, wind turbines and various airspace uses, including medial access helicopters, can and do coexist safely. We have very productive and transparent relationships with (aerial) EMS personnel to ensure continued service coverage for the project areas. Additionally, landowners can continue aerial spraying on their land in the wind farm.
|Decommissioning concerns||RWE is responsible for the safe and successful decommissioning of all of our operating wind farms. We understand that some people would like to have assurances that the wind farm can be decommissioned regardless of what happens in 30 years. To address this we have committed to setting aside financial resources – whether that be bonds, letters of credit, or similar instruments – to ensure decommissioning can happen. In addition, each turbine will have a substantial salvage value from the reusable steel in the tower and the sophisticated electrical and mechanical materials in the nacelle (the housing unit at the top of the turbine).|
|Stray voltage||Stray voltage refers to small voltage differences that can exist between two surfaces, which can induce a small electric current to flow if they’re connected. Most often, this stray voltage is the result of wiring on the farm or homestead that was installed incorrectly or has deteriorated over time without proper maintenance. A wind farm does not contribute to stray voltage for many reasons, chief among them is that the project is designed and constructed according to NEC, NESC, IEC, and IEEE standards and codes to ensure no risk of stray voltage. Additionally, testing before construction and after construction is required by the State of Illinois to prove this.|
Key RWE distinctions:
- Owner-operators – Unlike some developers, RWE typically stays deeply involved with each project from the start and for years to come. It identifies a site, works with the community to explain the benefits and address concerns, builds the project, and develops a presence to operate the project for its life (25-30 years). RWE works hard to become part of the communities that host its projects and frequently supports the community via sponsorships and other activities.
- Good stewards of the land – RWE commits to restoring the land as it was prior to construction. In fact, RWE was the first wind-energy company to sign an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Agreement (AIMA) in Illinois. (https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Resources/AIMA/Pages/default.aspx).
- Large, stable company – RWE has a strong track record and the resources and capital to get
- RWE ranks #8 for Top 10 Developers of New U.S. Wind Capacity Installed 2018**
- RWE ranks #6 in the U.S. relative to Total Wind Power Capacity Ownership by Market Share**
- In 2017, RWE ranked #3 in the U.S. relative to Total Installed Wind Power Capacity Ownership by Market Share**
- RWE built and operates the 5th-largest wind farm project in the U.S., Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas: 627 turbines producing 782 MW
(From American Wind Energy Association’s 2017 report.)
- AWEA’s 2018 year-end market report. Executive summary: https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/Publications%20and%20Reports/Market%20Reports/AWEA_AMR2018_ExecutiveSummary.pdf
- RWE Senior Manager, Wind Development: Tripp Roy, [email protected], 773-708-0499
- North American HQ: 353 N. Clark St., # 3000, Chicago, IL 60654, 312-923-9463
- greenswitchwind.com, www.rwe.com/us
- Public relations contact: Jason Sherman, SHERMAN communications & marketing 312.577.7650, [email protected]
“If RWE were to come here today and say they’d like to put another wind turbine on my farm, I would say go for it. They’ve been very easy to work with.”
Greg Merida – Tipton County, Indiana