Evanston aldermen are scheduled again tonight to decide whether the city should continue planning for an offshore windfarm in Lake Michigan.

The aldermen last month postponed action on a report from the city’s windfarm committee. The committee wants to continue research on the windfarm concept. But a number of community residents, including two dissident members of the committee, urged that the entire concept be dropped.

The opponents argue that an offshore windfarm would be too expensive and that it would have a variety of adverse environmental impacts.

The committee’s report recommends that the city, among other things, should:

  • Seek to have a resident appointed to a proposed state advisory council on offshore wind energy.
  • “Foster transparent discussion” of windfarm issues.
  • Encourage establishment of a meteorological station in the lake to gather windspeed data.
  • Look into grants and tax benefits that could encourage development and options for creating revenue for the city from the project.

And it calls for formation of a new committee to continue the research work.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Windfarming

    That's an obscene waste of taxpayer resources. Windfarming has been proven to be hugely expensive with little return.  UK and Denmark have all but eliminated their plans for windfarms because of the costs. What makes Evanston so special? Who's getting kickbacks for these "studies"?

    1. Windfarm in Lake Michigan

      Dear Anonymous,

      I am sorry you are not better informed… Important item # 1 windfarms are funded by private investors – not taxpayers. So will the one that has been proposed 7 – 12 miles off Evanston's coastline.

      To suggest that UK and Denmark are "all but eliminating their plans for windfarms because of the costs" is simply not true… Please follow this link to the 25 largest windfarms currently installed:

      It is my understanding that they are aggressively pursuing more of the same and that many other players are getting involved due to the escalating cost of electricity and the health benefits associated with clean renewable energy – not burning fossil fuels. Mercury has been precipitated in our lake for decades of burning coal in the mid-west. (this also obviates having to deal with nuclear waste). 

      To answer your last question – no one in the community has received kickbacks or have paid for anything.  The volunteers have provided our citizens their time, energy and enthusiasm for more than 3 years – for free!

      The way I look at it is that sooner or later, wind farms in Lake Michigan are inevitable…If, as a community we do nothing or respond negatively to continue investigating the potential… we will lose our voice at any table or forums that will study and promulgate rules for future windfarms in Lake Michigan all we have asked of the City is to continue to investigate this proposition (we are glad to continue to do this at no cost to City & Evanston taxpayers.

      Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

  2. Evanston needs a more important committee

    Do we have a committee to deal with our local economic crisis?

    We should have a committee made up of local business leaders, entrepreneurs, a Northwestern economist professor and so on to offer the City Council effective solutions to deal with the pending pension crisis and chronic tax revenue decline.

    This type of committee should have been a priority back in 2008.

  3. Robert Kennedy and Windfarms

    The Wall Street Journal today has a guest editorial by Robert Kennedy about windfarming off Cape Cod and its costs.

    The Kennedys have been known for their supposedly 'liberal causes' like ecology and green energy.  It has puzzled many why Robert Kennedy has been so against the windfarm.  Most assumed it was the liberal NIMBY view of don't spoil my view—-make the poor or 'man behind the tree' suffer all the consequences.

    In any event he presents his view here—whether he uses real costs and other arguments or not as a cover, the reader can judge.

    I just hope the Council's decisions are based on facts and not liberal 'do anything' reasoning.

  4. Is the City absolutely a million percent certain

    they even have the authority to put the windmills in the Lake? Given that the Lake borders so many states, I've gotta think you need a stack of federal permits a mile high to do this, if it can even be done. My guess is the legal costs would be darn near as high as the infrastructure costs. Does the City really think we can (a) fund the gigantic pension liabilities, (b) continue to provide a reasonable level of current services (e.g., police, fire, roads, schools, etc.) AND (c) sink the tens of millions of dollars this operation would cost?


    Sorry if these questions have already been asked and answered in other discussions, but I've seen many an instance of folks putting the cart before the horse and not asking these basic questions before cooking up a plan, only to find out they can't legally do it or are constrained by financing. Maybe to appease the elements of the City Council who want green energy without committing me and other taxpayers to a ridiculous obligation, the City could, in lieu of the study, buy a fractional interest in a single mill or series of mills out by DeKalb or something. Much like the towns across Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana that pulled together their funds to invest in ethanol plants, windmills will be an absolute economic loser if the federal subsidies disappear and it would be a shame if my kids suffered cutbacks to education or I had to pay another 5% in property taxes for some ill-conceived boondoggle.

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