Evanston aldermen Tuesday are scheduled to decide whether to formally explore whether any company wants to build a windfarm off the city’s Lake Michigan shore.

A map showing the proposed windfarm location. (Click here for a larger version)

The aldermen will review a pair of reports prepared by backers of the concept and are being asked by the city’s staff to issue a request for information that would invite potential developers to express an interest in the project.

The document identifies a site six to nine miles off the Evanston shore that runs generally northwest to southeast. The array of up to 40 wind turbines would extend from points approximately due east of Central Street to Main Street.

But it also suggests that respondents identify any other locations they believe would be better.

The request for information makes no promises about any participation by the city in funding or owning the resulting project or even moving forward with the plan and leaves it up to respondents to identify what they see as any regulatory issues involved.

The advocacy group Citizens for a Greener Evanston says Lake Michigan could be the ideal location in Illinois for a wind farm because offshore winds end to be higher and steadier than winds on land.

The CGE report says the turbines could produce enough electricity to power all the homes in Evanston.

Related link

Windfarm request for information documents

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Support for Wind Farm
    I think this is a great idea. As an active sailor, I can tell you that a wind farm 7 miles offshore will not be an issue for 99% of pleasure boaters. It is also so far off shore that they view from the shore will make it look like little lego blocks working silently in the distance.

    And to actually work a deal that could supply us all the energy we need and then some – perfect.

    John Kennedy

    1. Our Wind Farm and the Kennedy’s of Mass.
      If Ted Kennedy and his clan [supposedly ennviornmentalists] fought the windfarm off their family resort, can you imagine the protests from Evanstonians esp. the Council wanting to make sure it is “a nuclear freezone” [remember the Research Park]. Years of Council battles and lawsuits by the same people who brought you the Great Room and “historic district fight” [and later exempted their property].

  2. Great Idea
    This project is a win-win.

    My only complaint is that we should build more, we should build as many as we can get financing for.

    A project like this will create construction and maintenance jobs. We can sell the power for years to come. It will look cool (imagine the view flying into O’Hare in the early morning.) It could become a destination point for sailors and maybe even a few hardy kayakers.

    Go Evanston!

  3. This would be great!
    I certainly hope this gets approved and that the city can get the funding needed. Like mrmatz said, it creates JOBS!! It also puts Evanston on the map of being a green and progressive city. Think of all the great press that would come out of this. It would give us locals something to be proud of, and maybe even bring in some out-of-towners to fuel the economy. A total win win.

  4. Wind Farm — Why Not?
    On the surface, it sounds like a great idea, particularly if the city can share in the revenues. We might couple this with plans for a marina. The lake is a great resource for Evanston; we should capitalize on that when we can.

  5. Evanston Windfarm
    This does look like a Win-Win situatation! 7 miles offshore would have the tops of the turbines just barely visible and so small as to be toy-like. Let’s see what may develop.

  6. Waste of Time and Money
    This wind farm idea that is being pushed by the CGE is a waste of money and time. CGE is an advocay group committed to an idea that will drain more money from Evanston taxpayers. Their claim that these windmills will power Evanston is pure fantasy. These projections of lower costs and energy savings are based on circumstances not based in reality.

    Windmills cannot run a robust town like Evanston with all the power needs of the hospitals, high tech companies and a major university. If the windmills are used to supplement the power in town, then the ROI will be nowhere near break even, in fact, like public transportation this investment will be a money black hole. The costs to build and manitain these windmills are also very expensive.

    The city council and staff should spend their time reducing the deficit and improving city services. You want good cheap energy that leaves no carbon foot print then support nuclear energy.

    1. Wind turbines
      Waste of time and money has it down pat.

      *Who will pay for this?
      *Bankrupt Evanston?
      *A developer — with plenty of subsidies. Who pays for the subsidies, Evanston citizens?
      *Who will buy the intermittent power, recall that wind does not blow all the time.
      *What role does NU play in this?
      *Who cleans the dead birds off the blades?

      Somehow Evanston seems to forget that money is a scarce resource.

  7. NIML (not in my lake)
    why is this an ‘Evanston’ project? If it is 7 miles off shore, how does the City get an revenue, or have an say in the matter?

    I do like wind farms, but messing with the open space in Lake Michigan doesn’t seem right.

  8. If they want to build it, they should have come to us already
    This Evanston wind farm issue made the papers last year.

    It seems to me that if there was serious interest from wind farm developers they would have approached the city by now. Why would Evanston officials say publicly they want to explore and discuss whether any developers want this?

    Typically, if a developer is interested in doing a project they go to the city first. So, if there are interested wind farm developers, the city would probably have heard from them.

    Or, have they?

    Also, it’s interesting how much influence the Citizens for a Greener Evanston (which I support for the most part) have on city leaders. They got the city to adopt an ambitous green ordinance, and now it seems like they have city leaders poking around an idea of a wind farm during extremely difficult economic times.

    Someone give a shout out to David Brint of Brinshore Development to see if he can curry more favor to his Obama connection and get some more of that FREE stimulus money.

    The catch would be wind energy for “affordable homes.” That would perk the ears of any community activist.

    1. Windfarms. Thought out ?
      I support alternative energy but I wonder if this proposal is the typical northshore liberal “Ready, Fire, Aim” before the total costs and effect are known—see NYT article 4/13.
      If people are realistic they would realize that while some forms of alternative energy make sense in certain places, they won’t meet the need—unless you want all of North and South Dakota devoted to wind farms.
      If you don’t put much more of nuclear into the picture, your dreaming. Fast burning pyro-metalic reactors esp. using Thorium, are way you have to go. They not only burn a MUCH great portion of the fuel but also can process the existing waste fuels.

  9. Wind Farm on Lake Michigan—NOT!
    I’m all for developing green solutions but a wind farm in Lake Michigan? I don’t think so. Not only is it right in the middle of one of the worlds largest bird migratory routes but the proposal places them right where several major shipping lanes converge. I can just imagine the 1,000ft lake freighters trying to weave their way through or around those, or trying to avoid them in bad weather with low visibility. No way!

    This is a “Loose, Loose” proposal. The number of jobs they ‘might’ bring to Evanston would be minimal and we won’t be seen as progressive, but instead as a city of idiots invading one of the worlds most significant natural resources.

    Besides, when I look out on Lake Michigan I don’t want to see a bunch of windmills littering our pristine lake.

    1. Remember the Research Park Jobs Promised ?
      The city promised 4,000 new jobs with the Research Park—I wonder where all those people are hidden ?
      The Council should spend more time trying to get more business and manufacturing into Evanston [without promising them gifts to do so as they have before—even when they did not ask for it like Borders or forcing Daves to move long before development started so the city had give them funding]. First step is to reduce the tax and regulation burden and stop harassing everyone who wants to operate in Evanston.

    2. Are you sure?
      “I’m all for developing green solutions but, …. when I look out on Lake Michigan I don’t want to see a bunch of windmills littering our pristine lake.”

      It seems if you are concerned about your personal view of Lake Michigan, you’re not really fully invested in green solutions, or alternative energy production. With change, there will always be sacrifice of some kind. Tiny white dots on your horizon are kind of a small price to pay for getting our city, state, country and economy less dependent on oil. The investors will certainly take into consideration migratory bird paths and freighters. -Because, the last thing they want is to ignore the possibility of ships running into their multi-million dollar investments, or being picketed or shut down by PETA or environmental groups.

  10. Clean Energy Is Worth Paying For
    Wind energy is as clean as any source known today. This is worth noting, when Chicago has two coal-burning plants within its city limits. As we ramp up to meet the increased need for electricity in the future (electric cars, for instance), we don’t want anyone building another coal plant for us.
    I don’t think wind energy is cheap enough to beat coal right now. But I think clean energy is worth paying for. This project is supposed to be funded by private sources, not by the city. I would love to invest in it, even if it never pays for itself.

    1. Clean Energy Is Worth Paying For — or is it?

      You all forget that money is a scarce resource…

  11. Wind Farm will be there forever
    Have the supporters of the wind farm considered that these towers are going to be an eye sore for decades and perhaps all of our lifetimes? We are on the verge of exponential growth in clean energy technology. The new technologies will blend into their surroundings much better than the massive towers planned to be placed into the lake. Future solar, for example, may be blended into roof shingles or the paint of cars. Efficientcy will also be greatly increased requiring less solar panels or smaller wind turbines. While all this is going on Evanston will be stuck will giant eyesores stuck in our wonderful lake. The project will be so expensive that removing the towers anytime soon won’t be an option.

    1. Windfarm Science and Economics

        Since the consultants the Council will probably hire [unless they go shopping for ones to tell them what they want to hear] will probably be Kellogg and Tech grads [or similar schools] from two years prior, why not involve the university now–much cheaper and you get faculty too !

        While the Council latches on to every ‘in’ idea that is politically correct, maybe for one they can get some expert advise without the self-selected consultants as to the scientific feasibility and economic implications before a lot of time, money and effort is expended.

        What the experts will say, I don’t know.  What the consultants will wrap with a pretty bow, is what the Council wants—and if it is not they will say "…you never told us ____…" and revise their advise at $$$.   When you hire a consultant you can expect them to pull-out past studies and put a new cover on them, look attentive when told what the buyer wants and give you junior staff to do most of the work [do you really expect a senior partner at a law firm to do the work—no the paralegal or a tax lawyer to do your taxes—no a computer program perhaps ran in India].

  12. Windfarm Solution
    It would be awesome for Evanston to be a leader in the windfarm effort, but putting the wind turbines in our lake seems to be an extremely contentious issue so I have a simple solution. Our Sanitary Canal would be a great location for this effort. The long stretch of area, where populated at all, is populated by businesses of one sort or another so residents would not be affected and, since the ecology center is also located along the canal, wouldn’t it be a great GREEN statement to add wind turbines as well? Further, maybe the turbines could help displace some of the stench that emanates from the canal near the Howard Street intersection…. This could be a joint venture between Evanston, Skokie and Lincolnwood.

  13. A wind farm in Evanston is a
    A wind farm in Evanston is a fantastic idea. The “obstruction” of the view of the lake is miniscule and is an extremely small price to pay for clean, renewable energy. Also, the amount of jobs that could be created by such a project is staggering. There’s a lot of buzz around this topic right now and I think it’s great! If you’re looking for some more information about Evanston’s viability as a wind farm location and the benefits this could bring to the city, check out this story.

    1. Windfarms on land ?

      Why not put a wind farm on the city hall land ?  As the necessary reduction in the size of the city government, [whether by sound decisions or having run the city into the ground] more space can be re-claimed for the towers.   That way we could get some use out of that block.  Many feel all the hot air [and little results] might be used to keep them generating 24/365.


      The way the government is going now, running down the city until NU is the only thing left, residents and business "turning-out the lights", the Trustees can expand the windfarm to all the vacant property and sell the power to other cities and the Trustees payoff all the obligations the city has accumulated.

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