Evanston aldermen Monday will be asked by city staff to approve setting up a review commmittee to study two proposals received from potential developers for a wind farm in Lake Michigan.

A graphic from Mercury Wind Energy’s response to the city’s RFI.

The committee — to be composed of members of the city’s Environment Board, the Utility Commission and the activist group Citizens for a Greener Evanston — would report back to the City Council in January with suggestions about what to do next about the project.

The city issued a request for information from developers on May 1, and by the June 30 deadline had received two responses from potential developers, a level of response that top city officials found disappointing.

So far the city has made no commitment to move forward with such a project and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says the only expense has been of staff time to develop the request for information and review the materials submitted by the two companies — Off Grid Technologies, Inc.  and Mercury Wind Energy

Mercury, founded last year by Evanston native Lyne Harrison, is proposing a conventional wind turbine design while Off Grid Technologies favors what it calls a magnetic levitation wind turbine design developed by Regenedyne LLC.

It appears from their submissions to the city that neither company has actually constructed turbine projects on the scale called for in Evanston’s proposal.

Related links

Windfarm memo from city staff (.pdf)

Mercury Wind proposal (.pdf)

Off Grid proposal (.pdf)

Computer animation of the magnetic levitation design (YouTube)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation

7 Comments

  1. Potential noise?

    Are the developers being asked to build sufficiently far off shore to reduce the noise?  There was an article in the New York Times about noise from wind farms last week.

    1. Wind farm noise

      The proposal is to locate the wind farm seven miles off shore. A consultant quoted in the New York Times story, which appeared Wednesday of this week, suggests that keeping turbines at least 1.25 miles from homes could eliminate the noise complaints.

      On another concern — the visibility of the turbines from shore — one of the developers responding to Evanston’s RFI suggested that if they were place ten miles out instead of seven, the curvature of the earth would make the the turbines invisible from the shore. However that might place them in deeper water which could require more expensive construction techniques.

      — Bill

  2. Seriously, Is this a Joke?

    One of these companies was formed last year and the other was formed two years ago and neither appear to have any experience in actually constructing wind farms.  One company was formed by an Evanston resident and the other is headquartered in Hoffman Estates.  Have you seen any wind farms in or around Evanston or Hoffman Estates?

    The executive management team of Off Grid does not appear to have any prior experience in constructing wind farms. The CEO owned a taxi company.   Mercury doesn’t even appear to have a management team.

    If the City is serious about this Wind Farm  business, wouldn’t it make more sense to get a proposal from companies that are actually in the business of constructing wind farms, like say GE or Broadwind?

    I’m sorry but this is sad joke and I will be seriously upset if even one dollar of taxpayer dollars is wasted on it.

    1. Turbines are noise

       If one is even interested in costs these days, read an article in the latest Bloomberg Business Week on alternative energy costs:

      http://images.businessweek.com/mz/10/42/1042srrenewenergy58.pdf?chan=technology_special+report+–+focus+on+alternative+energy_special+report+–+focus+on+alternative+energy

      Comparative costs $/megawatt hr

      coal                               $56/$63

      on shore wind             $62/$119

      Ofshore wind             $143/$260

      Who will pay or subsidize these costs?

    2. Turbines, Gearboxes, Wind Energy or Bag o’ Wind?

       I see that you are all debating the wind energy system. WInd energy is great, but the "delivery system" is flawed.

      Go see:  http://www.windsystemsmag.com/article/detail/45/thinking-outside-the-gearbox

      This article is written by a guy who is, of course, "selling" an alternative gear box to the turbine engines.  Currently in So.California we have a HUGE graveyard of broken turbines.  

      Try to simply "follow the money" and you will learn what California did NOT learn.  You can still save yourselves.  Don’t rush into this stuff.

      It is ALWAYS about who is selling what to whom at what cost and why?  THere is no altruism involved.  It is all about maximizing profit.  It is the Great American Ideal to make money, for sure…but this is going to cost the taxpayers at some point…later if not sooner.  

      Who will perform the oversight for maintenance, put a "cap" on how much users will be charged. How do you know that when the novelty wears off and the fans break down, the guy who recoups his initial cash outlay plus healthy profit, won’t just "let it go?"  Will it be city workers, county workers, private employees who work on these things?  Who will install them?  Have you all tried ONE yet…in the midst of winter…in Lake Michigan?  I think a LOT more planning and checking ought to be done.

  3. Red night lights

    For this development to receive my support, it is essential that the red night lights be eliminated.   

    1. Warning…Warning

      I’m quite sure, in the effort to garner your support, the safety of air traffic around one of the busiest airports in the world will be sacrificed.

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