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Wanna be on a windfarm committee?

Evanston aldermen voted Monday night to seek citizen volunteers to participate in a committee to decide what — if anything — to do next about the idea of building a windfarm in Lake Michigan off the city’s shoreline.

Evanston aldermen voted Monday night to seek citizen volunteers to participate in a committee to decide what — if anything — to do next about the idea of building a windfarm in Lake Michigan off the city’s shoreline.

Despite efforts Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, a windfarm skeptic, to bar advocates who have pushed for the concept from being part of the new panel, the aldermen voted at a Rules Committee meeting to seek both advocates and technical experts for the new group.

"This is a direction Evanston’s never gone in before," Fiske said, "it requires technical and practical know-how."

"I think rather than the usual advocates, we need to look for the technical expertise we need to make a decision about whether this is right for Evanston, the lake and the citizens of Illinois," she added.

But Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she didn’t want to see people "who’ve gotten us to this point" excluded. "I’d like to have people who’ve worked on the idea so far to see it through."

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said the committee’s task should be broader than just reviewing the two proposals received earlier in the year from would-be wind farm developers.

"I don’t think we really got proposals, they were just concepts and ideas," Wilson said. "I don’t see anything solid at all regarding proposed financing, who’s going to pay for it."

Architect Nate Kipnis, a supporter of the windfarm concept, said he believes at least nine other firms were interested, but that the city’s request for qualifications document didn’t provide enough detail for them to put together a responsive proposal.

Jeanne Lindwall, a planning consultant who has worked on windfarm projects in central Illinois, said land-based windfarms now create property tax revenue for local municipalities under a state-adopted formula, but that benefit probably isn’t available for one built off shore.

She added that the committee should include someone with the knowledge to answer questions about how the windfarm would connect to the electric grid.

"Does it mean putting in high-tension wires from the lakefront to the power substation at Dewey and Emerson?" Lindwall asked. "Or can the lines be underground? And what would it cost?"

Persons interested in being on the committee should contact the mayor’s office at 847-866-2979 for more information.

Update: 4:35 p.m. 12/8/10:

Here’s a news release the city manager’s office has just issued about the committee:

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is seeking volunteers to serve on a committee to review information submittals from companies interested in working with the City on a offshore wind farm in Lake Michigan. In addition to reviewing these submittals, the committee will make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on potential next steps on the project. Individuals need not have any specific experience in this area, just an interest in the subject.

The committee will be selected in early February and is expected to meet several times prior to presenting a report to the Mayor and City Council in Spring, 2011.

Letters of interest in serving on the committee should be sent to Mayor Tisdahl no later than Friday, Jan. 7, via email ([email protected]) or by mail to the mayor at 2100 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL 60201. For further information about the committee or the wind farm project, please contact the city’s sustainable programs coordinator, Catherine Hurley, at [email protected] or 847-448-8069.

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