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Harvesting wind by year's end

The base of a wind turbine is set by workers at the Bright Stalk Wind Farm near Chenoa last week / CIFN photo.

CHENOA – Corn and soybeans won’t be all that is harvested in northeast McLean County as a new wind farm is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Construction continues on the Bright Stalk Wind Farm, a project from EDP Renewables North America located between Chenoa and Colfax, or about 20 miles northeast of Bloomington-Normal. EDP is one of the largest owners of wind and solar projects across the United States. Bright Stalk consists of 57 Vestas brand wind turbines which are expected to generate 205 megawatts of energy.

“We will be connecting into high-power voltage lines that already exist,” explained EDP director of project management Erin Bowser. “That power will go onto those lines and serve residents of Illinois and probably surrounding states.”

Two energy buyers from this project include retail giant Wal-Mart and software company Salesforce. Bowser said construction is going well and the company looks forward to being completely done and online producing power by the end of this year.She notes the $300 million investment brings with it construction and operations jobs along with increased tax revenue for the area.

“We don’t just develop and construct the wind farms. We also continue to own them for many years to come,” Bowser adds.

EDP has partnered with local landowners who host the facilities through lease agreements. According to Bowser, the project generates additional revenue for farmers and others in the area that host wind turbines or associated facilities on their property.

Information provided by EDP indicates this project involves 27.3 miles of road which was pulverized and rocked, 13.6 miles of access roads, 1,842 rock loads for crane pads and aprons, 4,902 loads of concrete for foundations, 122 miles of cable installation and 40.5 miles of trenching for electrical cables.

Each turbine is 3.6 megawatts with a hub height of 325 feet and blade length of 220 feet. The maximum tip height is 548 feet. Blades used for the project were manufactured in Colorado with the towers manufactured in Colorado and eastern Canada.

October construction highlights include complete installation of all turbines, the start of testing at the substation and switchyard, pre-commissioning the turbines and reclaiming public and access road radiuses. Turbines will be commissioned during November with the Bright Stalk Wind Farm operational in December.

EDP has another project known as Harvest Ridge under construction near Champaign. More information can be found online by searching EDP Renewables or Bright Stalk Wind Farm.

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