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Top Crop returns land to Enterprise Zone

Allows different acreage to be drawn into development area

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 1:58 p.m. CDT

SENECA — Top Crop Wind Farm is “giving” back a little something to Grundy and La Salle counties.

By unanimous vote Tuesday evening, the Seneca Village Council agreed to three ordinance amendments, which accept the return of  0.172 square miles to the Enterprise Zone created by the two counties in 1985.

Top Crop Wind Farm, a subsidiary of Horizon Wind Energy of Houston, Texas, is returning the acreage to the Enterprise Zone as land not needed after all for its wind farms in Grundy and La Salle counties.

“The wind farm didn’t use all the property it was granted in their application, and is putting it back into the Enterprise Zone for someone else to use sometime,” Mayor David Spicer noted. “This was done at no cost to anyone.

Seneca village attorney Michael Mason noted today the Enterprise Zone, the result of an intergovernmental agreement between five communities in the two counties, can only encompass a maximum of 15 acres.

“And, we’re real close to that,” he said. “Taking their acres from Top Crop leaves us to use that for future zones.”

A similar agreement was reached unanimously by the Grundy County Board at its last meeting. Top Crop applied for inclusion in the enterprise zone in 2009 to develop Phase 2 of a new wind farm of up to 135 wind turbines on farmland in Highland and Vienna townships in Grundy County, extending from the Kinsman/Verona area west to the line with La Salle County at Ransom, where Phase One of the project is located.

The two-county enterprise zone extends from south of Ottawa in La Salle County to Morris in Grundy County.

The zone is designed to stimulate economic growth and neighborhood revitalization in economically depressed areas of Illinois. This means businesses within the zone can be eligible for special state and local tax incentives, including exemption from sales tax on building materials.

Top Crop is one of four wind farms to locate in the area.

A driver to wind farms in Illinois is the renewable energy portfolio standards. By 2025, utilities must purchase 25 percent of their electricity from renewable resources, with 75 percent of that from wind. This means 18.75 percent of the 25 percent must be from wind energy.

Top Crop spokesman Dwight Farber said earlier that Illinois is “kind of the hotbed for wind energy activity.”

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