[VIDEO] Backers of the idea of building a windfarm off Evanston’s Lake Michigan shoreline rallied earlier this week at the Firehouse Grill to talk up the concept.

Architect Nate Kipnis presented a rendering of what a row of 10 wind turbines four miles out in the lake might look like from Evanston’s Dawes Park.

And Steve Perkins, a founder of the group Citizens for a Greener Evanston, said the turbines could meet the electricity demands of about one third of the city’s homes.

Medill Reports has more on the story.

Original story

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Any feasible alternative sites?
    The idea of cheap/free electricity from a clean source like the wind sounds wonderful. Rather than placing the windmills out in the lake, where construction costs would presumably be high, the structures might get in the way of shipping and our clear view of the lake/horizon would forever disappear, are there any other sites which might work almost as well? I’m suggesting placing windmills atop our burgeoning collection of skyscrapers or perhaps siting tall windmills at the tops of beaches near the road edge. Another source of power, particularly on windless days, could be the back and forth motion of the lake waves, which could be harnessed with generators inside hollow breakwaters, completely unseen.

    1. why in Evanston?
      I don’t see why the windmills need to be in Evanston. To be clear, I don’t object to having them here – I am certainly not a NIMBY – but we do have a lot of open farmland in Illinois, where the mills could be stationed. Putting mills on these sites would help prevent sprawl, as the landowners would have no incentive to sell to developers.

      Even on the lakefront, there are plenty of empty sites ( North Chicago comes to mind, even the old nuclear site in Zion…or the old US Steel site down south) where land would be less expensive.

      Aren’t windmills best sited in empty fields, not in densely populated areas? Is it necessary to have the mills right here, in town?

      Again..this is NOT a NIMBY argument. NIMBYs are evil and they hate America. If it is economically feasible to put the mills in Evanston instead of on the prairie, that is fine.

    2. Tom:
      Such windmills are

      Such windmills are hundreds of feet tall and would exert a destructive structural load on buildings not designed to handle them. I was told by an engineer familiar with the project, that wind is more steady over the lake than over land. Therefore such a device is more practical out there. As for marring the horizon, there is already so much horizon that several windmills would be a welcome respite from the monotony.

  2. This is a good idea.
    A wind farm in Lake Michigan is not only feasible, it is the responsible thing to pursue. Not only is placement of wind turbines in the lake feasible, it is actually more efficient than placing them on the land due to higher wind velocities and larger turbines and blades that can be utilized. (Land based installations are restricted due to transportation issues.) A group of 10-15 turbines would power all of Evanston and then some.

  3. Who owns it?
    I’m concerned that we may be overstepping our bounds a bit… Are there territorial and international waterway rights issues at stake? Is there any guarantee that we would “own” the energy generated by such a project? (Liberal Evanstonians living off the grid–will mandatory gun-ownership be far behind!?)

    Don’t get me wrong–no NIMBYism here. “Free” energy sounds good to me, even in the face of ultra-evironmentalist concerns about bird and bat populations being decimated by wind farms.

    And, in spite of snarky comments, perhaps wind turbines on the tower (if not this one, then the one that will eventually take its place) ought to be considered as part of the “public benefit.”

    1. Investors would own the wind farm
      Jason – venture capitalists would be putting up the money for the wind farm. Do you think the city is going to go out and raise 100 million dollars?

      If the city was in better financial shape, it would be a nice idea to own and beneifit from cheap power but that means taxpayers would borrow the money.

      The enviroment people are saying – this is part of lowering our carbon foot print – since we would buy the power, as “green Power” but all we are going to be doing is purchasing wind generate electricity versus nuclear or coal.

      Thus the cost may or may not save us in the future, unless the other costs go up, which ofcourse is likely they will go up so saving will be achieved but the investors will get the real benefit of the profit!

      But to achieve the real benefit the city would need to own the wind tubines, as we all know the only wind turbine in town is broken at the ecology center and has been broken for years, thus I would have little hope the city of Evanston could run a wind farm.

  4. Protect the Lake or Exploit the Lake?
    Well, that would depend on your ideology…

    One of my favorite pastimes in this town is to observe the dour sanctimony of its activists.

    A few years ago, when the Marina was at issue, Lake Michigan was sacred – to be protected at all costs.

    When something politically correct is on the table, protectionism goes out the window.

    God save Evanston’s hypocrites!
    To live anywhere else would be boring.

    1. Wind Farm / Marina ?
      Dear Michael Lee & Bill Smith,

      I am the organizer of the Citizens for a Greener Evanston “Green Topics” event at the Firehouse Grill on Wednesday, Feb. 25th. The goal of our engagement there was to present to the people of Evanston a summary of the Climate Action Plan that 100’s of Evanston Citizens donated 1000’s of hours to produce…

      Yes, the Wind Farm certainly is a “BEHAG” (big hairy audacious goal) but that is only a small part of the big overall picture. Controversial for sure!

      Marina (and hypocrites)? In my humble opinion to even mention an onshore Marina replete with (water) current altering breakwaters and easily hundreds of gallons of pollutants leaking/spilling from motorboats into a contained shoreline area seasonally could possibly only be a “discussion” of hypocrites…

      As a sailor and someone very familiar with the Marina proposal… I don’t see a relevant connection between that and an well engineered project 4 miles offshore that could save energy, reduce carbon and would compensate for at least half of Evanston’s collective carbon contributions to our atmosphere.

      FYI, the marina was primarily shot down because of onshore issues like parking, traffic congestion, noise pollution and other shoreline/neighborhood issues… not about the lake itself (but happily serving the sanctity of our Lake in the end).

      Brian G. Becharas
      Principal, Energy Education Associates

  5. Would this really be an “Evanston” wind farm?
    Perhaps I’m missing something, but how does an area of Lake Michigan (4 miles out) belong to Evanston any more than it belongs to Wilmette or Chicago or the State of Illinois?

    I have a hard time understanding why Chicago, Wilmette, the State of Illinois, the Army Corp of Engineers and the various coalitions and activist groups that aim to protect the Great Lakes would sign off on an idea that potentially impacts Lake Michigan, but exclusively benefits the city of Evanston.

    It seems to me that a more regional approach would not only be more effective, but would be an easier sell politically… especially to people who live in Wilmette and Chicago (or people who use the lake) and have to live with the turbines.

    Don’t get me wrong, pursuing alternative forms of energy seems like a great idea and I applaud the initiative, but there are a lot of hard questions that need to be asked and answered if this is going to have any chance of happening.

  6. Windfarms
    It seems to mee that if there is a private or public entity that would set up a wind farm in the lake, That it would be great.

    Not sure why it is an Evanston issue. If it is 4 miles out in the lake is it not outside Evanston jurisdiction? Are all the comments just comments or does Evanston actually have a say in this proposal.

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