Knox County Board approves of wind farm

The Knox County Board approved a conditional use permit for the building and operation of a wind farm in the northern part of the county.

Board members voted 14 to 1 in favor of the application of the Knox County Wind Farm from Orion Renewable Energy. Brian Friedrich was the lone dissenting vote.

Several people spoke ahead of the board vote, including local landowners, Carl Sandburg College President Dr. Seamus Reilly, Superintendents at ROWVA and Galva, as well as former Knox County Boardmembers.

Ken Springer, President of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development, spoke in favor of the project and told board members that the wind farm will create jobs, bring new revenue to municipalities and school districts as well as give landowners an additional source of revenue for years to come.

Speaking against were several area landowners who questioned the process — including former County Board member David Erickson — he and his wife were critical of the process of the wind farm and zoning board of appeals.

The 150-megawatt wind farm will be built on 23,000 acres of land in the northern part of the county. It is projected to create around 200 construction jobs.

The wind farm is expected to bring in somewhere around 21.8 million in tax revenue between the Galva and ROWVA school districts as well as millions for local fire protection districts, road districts, Carl Sandburg College, and more.

The expectation is that Orion will be creating around 200 jobs through the construction of the wind farm and 6-10 full-time jobs for the farm’s operation.