Gov. JB Pritzker signed HB 2988 on April 19, clarifying current law around zoning standards for wind energy development across the state.
The administration claims the new law will create jobs, revitalize communities with new investment in rural areas, including tens of millions of dollars in annual payments directly to landowners and farmers and hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax payments to schools and local government bodies, and produce clean, renewable energy that will help Illinois work toward lowering its emissions.
“I’m committed to putting our state on a path toward 100% clean and renewable energy, and this bill I signed into law today will help get us there,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Illinois has over 3,500 megawatts of operating wind capacity, and under my administration, we’re going to further embrace our clean energy future and take bold action to combat climate change.”
HB 2988, which takes effect immediately, allows only counties and municipalities to establish standards for wind farm development. Townships will no longer have zoning authority over wind farm development.
The move is aimed at Douglas County, Ill. where a dispute between two townships, Newman and Murdoch, and a Houston-based company, EDP Renewables North America LLC, who has plans to build a 200-megawatt wind farm, known as the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm, was being litigated in court.
Neighbors in Newman and Murdoch Townships say their property values will be affected negatively by the wind farm.
Douglas County is one of the few counties in Illinois that does not have a general countywide zoning system, but does have specific regulations for wind farms. Newman and Murdoch Townships then enacted their own stricter zoning requirements, which EDP says will effectively preclude its development. EDP filed suit against both of the townships, arguing that the county’s rules should supersede those of the townships, while the townships have argued they have the right to enact their own codes.
HB 2988 passed the House on March 27 by a vote of 95-to-12. It passed the Senate on Wednesday, April 3, by a vote of 43-7, sending it to the Governor’s desk. The bill effectively puts the whole thing to rest and takes away the previously existing voice of townships in matters affecting their residents and their properties.
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